In the postgame huddle, Post Falls football coach Blaine Bennett made sure to first praise a position group that doesn’t usually get a lot of notice.

“How about those special teams?” he shouted to his state tournament-bound Trojans, who responded with an emphatic cheer.

Twenty-two of Post Falls’ points came as a direct result of special-teams plays — one of them providing a second-quarter spark that spurred the Trojans to a two-score halftime lead.

Post Falls maintained its momentum through a Lewiston surge to win 43-28 on Friday at Bengal Field in a must-have Class 5A Inland Empire League contest.

The Trojans (5-2, 2-0) most likely have punched their ticket to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year. It appears the Bengals (3-5, 0-2) have had their postseason hopes dashed for the second straight time by Post Falls.

“We’ve got a good football team, but we didn’t play well enough to win,” Lewiston coach Matt Pancheri said.

Early in the second quarter, star Trojan senior linebacker Josiah Shields corralled a shovel pass from Zackary Rodriguez on a fake punt, shook three defenders outside and raced 53 yards for a score.

“It’s something we’ve worked on for three weeks, just never had a chance to run it,” Bennett said of the game-changing play. “They executed it tremendously. Zack and Josiah, those are two of our best seniors.”

On the ensuing Lewiston possession, a misconnection on a punt snap deep in the Bengals’ own territory resulted in a safety.

Not long after, a muffed punt return by the Bengals gave the Trojans a short field, and they capitalized with a 27-yard toss from Jaxon Anderson to All-Idaho receiver Thomas Hauser, who made a tough, finger-tip grab while fighting off tight coverage.

“We’d have liked to get the ball to Hauser more, but we couldn’t really execute (the pass) besides a couple big plays,” Bennett said. Hauser finished with 60 yards on four grabs.

Riding the legs of stout running back Elliott Taylor, Lewiston assembled a methodical drive after trailing 23-8 at intermission, capped by a short Joel Brume scoring run.

But Post Falls’ special teams were again there to respond, this time with an 85-yard kick-return touchdown from speedster Tanner Sessions.

“If you look at how we executed the fake punt, how we executed the PATs, how we executed the kickoff return — special teams was the difference,” Bennett said, lauding coordinator Mick Zeller.

Lewiston, behind a standout performance from senior quarterback Kash Lang, kept it manageable for much of the third quarter.

Lang broke off a 53-yard scamper, and wrapped up the drive with a 3-yard score to close it to 29-22 midway through.

Also playing defensive back, Lang jumped a short route for an interception on the next possession, but Lewiston was contained by a stalwart Trojan defensive front, which halted the marching Bengals and forced back-to-back punts to provide its team some breathing room.

“I thought our defensive front played excellent,” Bennett said. Post Falls’ flowing defensive box, which was tested mightily by Lewiston’s grinding ground attack, made stops when it most needed them.

“Their defense gave us a hard time. They were making a lot of plays, and we didn’t make enough to counteract it,” Pancheri added.

Anderson, seeing man coverage with his Trojans hanging onto a one-score edge late in the third, threw a dart to lengthy receiver James Lee on a slant. Lee broke free over the middle, and blazed 76 yards for what felt like the clinching touchdown.

A 25-play Bengal scoring drive that spanned 7:30 in the fourth proved too little and too late.

Lang tallied 159 yards on 32 carries, and was 13-of-28 passing for 113 yards and an interception, which ended the second quarter. Taylor ran for 85 yards on 14 attempts, Brume logged two touchdowns to go with 29 yards and receiver James White opened scoring with a 3-yard sweep in the first quarter.

“We were going back and forth, and they had a nice little second half, but our defense really stepped up,” Bennett said.

Post Falls running backs Nicolas McLeod and Noah Range combined for 89 yards, and Range punched in two goal-line touchdowns.

Anderson went 12-for-23 for 189 yards, and threw two picks.

Bengal defensive back Jared Grainger skied for an interception in the end zone in the first, and safety Kaden Lundeberg also caused a fumble in the opening period, which was recovered by the Bengals in scoring position. Yet Lewiston couldn’t muster any scoring off the three takeaways.

The Bengals close their season at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Lake City.

“We still may have a chance at the playoffs, we just need to go beat Lake City,” Pancheri said. “... You’ve gotta give yourself a chance.”

Post Falls 0 23 13 7—43

Lewiston 8 0 14 6—28

First Quarter

Lewiston — James White 3 run (Kash Lang run).

Second Quarter

Post Falls — Josiah Shields 53 pass from Zackary Rodriguez (Isaac Ballew kick).

Post Falls — Safety, punt snap.

Post Falls — Thomas Hauser 27 pass from Jaxon Anderson (Ballew kick).

Post Falls — Noah Range 4 run (Ballew kick).

Third Quarter

Lewiston — Joel Brume 5 run (Brume pass from Lang).

Post Falls — Tanner Sessions 85 kick return (kick failed).

Lewiston — Lang 3 run (run failed).

Post Falls — James Lee 76 pass from Anderson (Ballew kick).

Fourth Quarter

Post Falls — Range 1 run (Ballew kick).

Lewiston — Brume 3 run (pass failed).

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Post Falls: Nicolas McLeod 15-68, Range 7-21, Anderson 2-11, Hauser 2-3. Lewiston: Lang 32-159, Elliott Taylor 14-85, Brume 8-29, Jace McKarcher 4-11, White 3-9.

PASSING — Post Falls: Anderson 12-23-2—189. Lewiston: Lang 13-28-1—113.

RECEIVING — Post Falls: Lee 2-82, Hauser 4-60, Shields 1-57, Rodriguez 2-19, Christian Curlee 2-17, Cole Rutherford 1-5. Lewiston: Jared Grainger 3-36, White 2-22, Taylor 2-18, Devin Zagelow 3-12, Jared Jelinek 1-10, Brume 1-9, McKarcher 1-6.

Clark may be reached at cclark@lmtribune.com, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 848-2260.

Clark may be reached at cclark@lmtribune.com, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 848-2260.

Recommended for you