MOSCOW — The Lewiston Bengals’ football team found themselves in a unique situation Monday.
Because of a 38-7 loss Friday at Coeur d’Alene, along with Post Falls’ victory against Lake City the same day, all three teams finished the Class 5A Inland Empire League season with identical 2-1 records.
So what do you do in a situation like this? Go to the rulebook and pull out the Kansas tiebreaker format to crown the league champion.
The three teams met at Moscow Middle School to determine possible state playoff berths in the upcoming 12-team tournament that is set to begin this weekend.
Lewiston opened the tiebreaker with a 3-0 victory against Post Falls, then the Trojans dropped their next game to the Vikings to put an end to their season, which set up Coeur d’Alene vs. Lewiston for the second time in three days and for the top seed out of the district.
After Lewiston won the first round of the tie-breaker, Coeur d’Alene’s defense stepped up two consecutive drives to stop Lewiston.
Lewiston’s 1-1 finish in the tie-breaker earned them the second seed in the North, and with a first-round playoff game against Capital at a time to be determined this Friday at Bengal Field.
Lewiston and Post Falls opened up the tiebreaker. The Trojans’ offense started off and immediately faced a fourth-down decision. They elected to go for it instead of kicking a short field goal, and the gamble failed as Post Falls turned the ball over to the Bengals. Lewiston beat Post Falls just 18 days ago on a last-second missed field goal.
On the Bengals’ opening drive, Post Falls stopped them on third down forcing Thor Kessinger to beat them with his foot from 35 yards away. The kick was true, and Lewiston advanced.
“We’ve kicked one field goal this year and that was tonight,” Lewiston coach Matt Pancheri said. “I’m super proud of Thor for making that it put us in a really good position. Everyone on the team is proud of him.”
Coeur d’Alene swiftly took care of business, setting up the winner-take-all contest.
The Vikings defense did the same thing they did three days earlier: shutting down the Bengals run game. So Lewiston had to rely on quarterback Jace McKarcher’s arm. McKarcher made Coeur d’Alene pay, finding Jared Jelenek for a touchdown on third down. The point-after was good, putting the Bengals in front.
“Jace is a fantastic quarterback, he just struggled on Friday with terrible field conditions,” Pancheri said. “Tonight he was back in his natural state, he’s a dang good football player.”
The Vikings answered quickly with an explosive screen play for 24 yards to Gunner Giulio, then he punched it in from a yard out. The ensuing point-after was good to tie it up.
In the second series of the first round, the Vikings dialed Giulio’s number again for a short score but couldn’t convert for two.
Jelenek made another sure-handed play in the end zone for his quarterback to put Lewiston in a situation to win the opening round. McKarcher then found Elliott Taylor for the 2-point conversion to give the Bengals the early 1-0 advantage.
But from there, the Vikings defense outmuscled the Bengals’ offense in the final two drives to get the victory. Lewiston only gained 9 yards on offense and allowed a sack in its those two drives.
Giulio scored his third touchdown of the night to give the Vikings the victory along with the league title and the top seed in the district, earning a coveted weekend off.
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What exactly is a Kansas tiebreaker?
The three teams play in a double-elimination, round-robin style format, similar to college football’s overtime. If team A scores, they have the option of kicking the point after or going for a 2-point conversion. If team B matches what team A did on their first drive, the next drive starts at the opposing 10-yard line and then a team must go for the 2-point conversion if a touchdown is scored.