After an up-tempo and high-scoring first half, it looked like one of those games in which the team that had the ball last would win.
It did not end up that way.
Coeur d’Alene, which was ranked No. 1 by the Idaho media poll all season, led 21-16 early in the second quarter – but did not score again.
Instead, the Vikings committed a costly turnover right before half and third-ranked Rocky Mountain reeled off 20 consecutive points and ground out a 36-21 win over the visiting Vikings in a 5A State semifinal in Meridian on Friday.
The Grizzlies (8-0) face defending state champ Rigby, a 26-19 winner over Mountain View, in the state title game next week.
Coeur d’Alene went up 21-16 midway through the second quarter on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Langley to Cameren Cope on a double-pass.
Rocky Mountain responded with a 67-yard pass from Kobe Warr to Jordan Erickson – the pair’s third TD connection of the half – for a 23-21 lead.
Erickson caught three passes, all for touchdowns, for 172 yards.
CdA had first-and-goal with less than a minute to go before halftime, but Gunner Giulio was hit while spinning near the goal line and fumbled into the end zone, where Rocky Mountain recovered for a touchback to preserve its advantage.
After a scoreless third quarter, Warr’s 14-yard run early in the fourth put the Grizzlies up 29-21.
Coeur d’Alene (8-1) was not without chances down the stretch. But a false start penalty stalled one drive, and a later attempt at a second double-pass on fourth-and-2 at its 34 hit the turf on the lead pass and was ruled incomplete.
Rocky Mountain took seven plays to go 34 yards, culminating with Arthur Williams’ 5-yard touchdown run, which provided the final score.
CdA’s Jack Prka finished 24 of 42 for 304 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Cope had five catches for 69 yards with a TD.
The Vikings jumped out quickly, with the defense setting the tone.
Ethan Garitone picked off Warr on the second play of the game, giving CdA a first down at the Grizzlies’ 21. Two plays later, Prka connected with Luke McLaughlin from 19 yards out for the quick lead.
The CdA defense forced a turnover on downs. On second down, Guilio took a swing pass 50 yards for a score and the Vikings led 14-0.
Rocky Mountain got going, though, and Warr found Erickson for a 75-yard pass-and-run to halve the deficit.
Prka was picked off by Mason Jacobsen in Vikings territory and the Grizzlies cashed in with a Caden Zierenberg 23-yard field goal.
Rocky Mountain faced a fourth-and 5 from the CdA 30, but Erickson got behind the Vikings’ defense for another score and a 16-14 lead.
CdA forced another turnover on downs, and that’s when Langley hooked up with Cope.
Skyline 20, Sandpoint 0: Cade Marlow had a 13-yard touchdown run and 5-yard TD pass to Abrahn Silverio and the Grizzlies (11-1) blanked the visiting Bulldogs (6-5) in a 4A State semifinal in Idaho Falls.
After a scoreless first half, Sandpoint was down two scores with just more than 9 minutes to play, but a Parker Pettit pass was picked off by Cooper Owen and the senior took it 30 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Skyline faces Emmitt, which beat Century 27-22, in the state championship next week.
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