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Isaiah Griffin catches 2 TD passes, Coeur d’Alene bounces back to beat Lewiston in Inland Empire League finale

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 22, 2021

At the start, it had all the feel of a playoff game. It essentially was.

But once the rain let up, Coeur d’Alene found its footing and turned an early close game into a rout.

Isaiah Griffin caught two touchdown passes and the Vikings scored on five consecutive possessions from late in the first quarter through halftime to down visiting Lewiston 38-7 Friday in an Inland Empire League 5A regular-season finale.

Brayden Bengston threw three touchdown passes and kicked a field goal for Coeur d’Alene (6-2 overall, 2-1 in league play).

The Vikings bounced back in a big way from a close loss last week to Post Falls.

“We showed up the way we should have showed up last week,” Vikings coach Shawn Amos said. “I’m real proud of how they responded to that game. We came out, we did what we had to do keep give ourselves a chance to keep playing.”

“It was a good fought game,” Griffin said. “Way to bounce back after a tough loss last week.”

The win, coupled with Post Falls’ 35-13 victory against Lake City, forced a three-way tie atop the IEL 5A. CdA, Lewiston and Post Falls will meet at a neutral site Monday to play a Kansas tiebreaker for the two automatic bids to state out of the North Region. The loser of the tiebreaker must wait to find out if it can claim the lone 5A at-large bid.

“Winning this game puts us in a lot better spot to get a chance to get in the playoffs,” Amos said. “I’ve been in a few of those Kansas tiebreakers. They’re crazy. We just gotta regroup and go, man. We have a very short turnaround. Come in this weekend and get back to work.”

Lewiston’s Cruz Hepburn, one of the state’s leading rushers, was held to 7 yards on eight carries. Bengals quarterback Jace McKarcher rushed 16 times for 137 yards, with 57 coming on one early run.

“Our kids, you know they were dialed in,” Amos said of his defense. “This group just went back to work, you know that’s the thing – we’re not used to losing on our home field and our kids responded really well and just dug back in and got back to work.”

“We prepared for the run game all week long, even corners having to pay for the run game,” Griffin said. “So we were well-prepared and it shows on the scoreboard.”

Much of the first quarter was played in a moderate downpour with incomplete passes, loose footing and turnovers prevalent. Late in the quarter, Bengston hooked up with Colton Farrar on a long pass into Bengals territory. When the drive stalled, Bengston kicked a 22-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Lewiston (7-2, 2-1) fumbled the ensuing kickoff and CdA took over at the Lewiston 25-yard line. Griffin took a reverse to the 2, then Gunner Giulio pounded it in.

After a three-and-out, Griffin took a short pass and avoided several tacklers and went 41 yards for a TD and a 17-0 lead. Another three-and-out gave CdA the ball back at its 20. Bengston hit Caleb Short for 49 yards and three plays later, Griffin scored on an 18-yard catch.

“We got great blocks all night,” Griffin said. “The guys did their thing. We played great as a team tonight.”

“(Griffin) did a great job,” Amos said. “We focused on getting him a few more touches, focused on trying to get the ball in his hands a little bit more and it paid off. He’s a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball.”

Griffin said he was excited in practice about getting the ball a bit more.

“I could definitely feel my heart start pumping a little bit,” he said. “But I just trust my guys. I know that they know what they’re doing. We’re a well-oiled machine.”

Just before halftime, Bengston found Farrar in the end zone for a 31-0 lead .

Robert Collier busted a 60-yard TD run in the third quarter to put the Vikings up 38-0. Collier left the game early in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Lewiston finally got on the board midway through the fourth on a 20-yard run by McKarcher.

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