MOSCOW — For the second consecutive year, Sandpoint halted Moscow’s football season.
A year ago, the Bulldogs eliminated the Bears in the second round of the Idaho Class 4A playoffs in Sandpoint. On Friday, they ended Moscow’s season 41-6 on senior night in a 4A Inland Empire League game at Bear Field.
Sandpoint outscored Moscow 20-0 in the fourth quarter to pull away and set up a winner-take-all league game against Lakeland next week. For Moscow, the game was its season finale.
“Give Moscow credit,” Sandpoint coach Ryan Knowles said. “They graduated a lot of players last year and you could see their fight. … We just had a little more in the tank.”
The Bears (3-5, 0-2 IEL) at times got big stops and had success moving the ball against the Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0), but a series of turnovers and failed fourth down attempts doomed them in the long run.
The Bulldogs scored on the third play of the game when defensive back Jack Zimmerman intercepted Moscow quarterback Leon Hutton and raced 46 yards for a touchdown.
Sandpoint racked up two interceptions, one fumble recovery and a blocked extra point on the night.
The Bulldogs also scored in the final minute of the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Parker Pettit to Cody Newhart. But Moscow trailed only 21-6 going into halftime despite the late touchdown.
The Bears’ score came on a 1-yard run by Hutton.
“A lot of opportunities and a lot of plays to be had and made throughout the course of (the) game,” Moscow coach Phil Helbling said. “I told our team at halftime, I really thought we were playing with great effort and great intensity and we looked totally different than we did last week (in a 59-0 loss to Lakeland), and it was going to come down to our execution in the second half.”
Moscow played arguably its best quarter coming out of halftime, forcing two straight Sandpoint punts and moving the ball 62 yards to the the Bulldogs’ 18-yard line on a clock-eating, eight-minute drive.
Moscow used mostly short passes and runs by Hutton as the Bears dinked and dunked the ball down the field. During a timeout, Knowles implored somebody on his defense to step up and make a play.
He got it when Levi Balison jumped on a loose ball moments later.
It was that kind of night for Moscow.
“It felt like Moscow was moving the ball on us, but we found ways to get them off the field quite a few times,” Knowles said.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Sandpoint’s offense refound its groove with a three-touchdown fourth.
Sandpoint bellcow Gerrit Cox rumbled for 144 yards and one touchdown and Pettit added 177 yards of total offense. Newhart, Pettit’s favorite target, had two scores of five catches for 57 yards in his first game of the season.
He missed his team’s first five games after having surgery to repair an injured elbow, Knowles said.
For Moscow, Hutton accounted for most of his team’s offense. The senior scampered for 94 rushing yards and passed for another 199.
His favorite targets were his lengthy senior receivers Dylan Decker (5 catches, 74 yards) and Cody Isakson (5, 65).
It was a rough ending to the season for the Bears, who started the season 3-1 with key wins against Pullman and Clarkston.
But Moscow faced its toughest teams at the end of its schedule, dropping four straight.
“In the end it’s all about building these kids and these kids learning life through football, and I really feel these kids have learned a lot through the course of the year,” Helbling said. “Started out well and then just had a tough time down the stretch here. But that’s life. You gotta learn how to deal with the bumps in the road.”
Sandpoint 14 7 0 20—41
Moscow 0 6 0 0 — 6
Sandpoint — Jack Zimmerman 46 interception return (Jacob Gove kick), 10:28.
Sandpoint — Gerrit Cox 10 run (Gove kick), 2:30.
Moscow — Leon Hutton 1 run (kick blocked), 7:34.
Sandpoint — Cody Newhart 4 pass from Parker Pettit (Gove kick), 0:35.
Sandpoint — Pettit 2 run (kick failed), 10:24.
Sandpoint — Newhart 14 pass from Pettit (Gove kick), 9:35.
Sandpoint — Pettit 24 run (Gove kick), 4:41.
RUSHING — Sandpoint: Cox 19-144, Pettit 7-45, Kody Brewster 3-18, Shane Sherrill 2-6. Moscow: Hutton 19-94, Isaiah Murphy 5-13, Cody Wilson 1-0.
PASSING — Sandpoint: Pettit 11-17-0—132. Moscow: Hutton 21-36-2—199.
RECEIVING — Sandpoint: Newhart 5-57, Max Frank 4-52, Lasse Kuhn 1-17, Arie VanDenBerg 1-6. Moscow: Dylan Decker 5-74, Cody Isakson 5-65, Wilson 4-26, Mike Kiblen 2-19, Shafer Dicus 1-12, Toby Frie 1-6, Murphy 3-(-3).
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, email@example.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.