Momentum is a funny thing in high school sports, especially come playoff time.
At the start of the fourth quarter Friday night, it seemed like Post Falls had it.
Then one play changed all that.
Aiden Whipple grabbed a fourth-quarter interception and visiting Mountain View topped the Trojans 44-41 in an Idaho 4A State first-round game on Friday.
Leyton Smithson carried 21 times for 218 yards with one touchdown on the ground and two through the air for the Mavericks.
“It’s like a track meet out here,” Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said. “(Post Falls) has a good offense – their quarterback does a great job and Coach Bennett is a great coach, you know, offensive mind, and so they spread out and kind of made it difficult on us. … Definitely an entertaining high school game. It’s hard to come up north and get a win.”
Mountain View (4-3), fourth in the Southern Idaho Conference West, faces West No. 2 Capital (4-1), the SIC East champ, on the road next week.
The Mavericks entered with the state’s No. 6 scoring offense at 34.8 points.
“I mean, they just made one more play than us,” PF senior receiver Tommy Hauser said. “We fought as hard as we could and made mistakes, and we couldn’t afford to make mistakes and they capitalized and props them for that.”
Hauser had 18 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
“Two good teams, real proud of our coaches and our players and the program,” Post Falls coach Blaine Bennett said. “To host a playoff game and what a show.
“I thought our kids really played well, even when we got down in that fourth quarter. I think coming back and giving our guys a chance, I thought the players did an excellent job tonight.”
Post Falls (5-4) led 33-30 after Hauser scored on a 7-yard pass from Jaxon Anderson with 10:55 left in the game.
The Trojans forced a punt, but two plays later Whipple picked off Anderson looking for Hauser on an out route and returned it to the Post Falls 20.
Smithson used three carries to get to the 2 and sophomore third-string quarterback Dawson Wahl scored from there to put the Mavericks up 37-33.
Post Falls was forced to punt. On the next play, Wahl hit Smithson in the flat and his 73-yard TD catch-and-run led to an 11-point lead with just over 6 minutes to go.
Just like that – momentum changed.
“Layton had a great game, boy,” Benedick said. “I mean, we needed him to have a big game and he did – running the ball and catching the ball.”
Hauser fumbled on the Trojans’ next possession, but later got deep on the secondary for a 79-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion made it a three-point game with 45 seconds left, but Mountain View recovered the onside kick and a 17-yard Wahl-to-Smithson pass made a first down to seal it.
“That’s not like Tommy Hauser to fumble it, but then he’s such a competitor,” Bennett said. “It didn’t surprise me when he came back, we gave him a chance and he took it the distance. That’s the kind of guys we have here, great competitors.”
Mountain View led 16-7 midway through the second quarter on a pair of Jake Farris touchdown runs. Post Falls had third-and-2 at its 42 and called for the jumbo package, but Anderson hit tight end Josiah Shields on a seam route and he rumbled 58 yards for a score.
Mountain View responded with a 13-play drive and Smithson took a swing pass 11 yards for a TD right before halftime for a 23-14 lead at intermission.
Post Falls scored on its first possession of the second half, as Cole Rutherford went 56 yards with a reception down the right sideline. Mountain View fumbled the kickoff, and four plays later sophomore Noah Range plowed in from the 1 and the Trojans led 27-23.
Anderson finished 35 of 42 for 465 yards.
“I think we belonged in the playoffs,” Bennett said. “I think we’re a very good team and we had a great group of seniors.”
“It’s not a statement that we want to make,” Hauser said reflecting on the season. “We know we’re better than that and we know we could have won. We could have won a lot of the games we were in. You know, losing by two points to Rigby early in the season.
“We were in every game that we lost, we just needed to pull through (tonight) and we didn’t. It doesn’t define us but, you know, it’s a little bit short.”
Sandpoint 30, Hillcrest 27: Elek Christoferson kicked a 25-yard field goal late and the Bulldogs (4-4) beat the visiting Knights (4-6) in an Idaho 4A State first-round game.
Sandpoint hosts league rival Moscow in the quarterfinals next week.
Max Thielbar had a pair of touchdowns for Sandpoint.
Moscow 45, Jerome 7: Jonah Elliss scored on a 67-yard touchdown catch and the visiting Bears (4-1) topped the Tigers (7-3) in an Idaho 4A State first-round game.
Century 17, Lakeland 14: The visiting Hawks (3-5) fell to the Diamondbacks (6-3) in an Idaho 4A State first-round game. Details were unavailable.
Grangeville 21, St. Maries 7: The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0) beat the visiting Lumberjacks (2-2, 1-1) in the Central Idaho League championship game. Details were unavailable.
Grangeville travels to No. 1 seed West Side in a state quarterfinal matchup next week.
Mullan/St. Regis 58, Clark Fork 14: Adam Ball hauled in a 53-yard touchdown pass from brother Caleb Ball in the first quarter and the Tigers (7-1) beat the visiting Wampus Cats (2-3) in the North Star League title game. The Tigers will host the Horseshoe Bend/Castleford winner next week in a state quarterfinal.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.