Mistakes plagued the Coeur d’Alene Vikings from start to finish Friday.
And the visiting Skyline Spartans of Sammamish capitalized on all of the Vikings’ miscues, the final one being an 84-yard interception return by Drew Lunde with 2:21 left as the two-time defending Washington 4A state football champs downed Coeur d’Alene 38-23.
Skyline returned two interceptions for touchdowns and recovered two of six CdA fumbles.
CdA’s defense seemingly played with poor field position throughout.
“We can’t turn the ball over that much,” a disappointed CdA coach Shawn Amos said. “Fumbles (and) interceptions.
“You can’t beat a team like that when you turn the ball over like that.”
CdA was hoping to square the score with Skyline (1-1) after last season when the Spartans put a 71-20 thumping on the Viks at the Kibbie Dome.
The Viks fell behind West Linn of Oregon 28-6 in the first half of their season opener and rallied in the second half to win.
So when the Viks (1-2) found themselves in a 28-3 hole late in the first half there was no panic.
Despite a game fraught with a variety of mental and physical mistakes, the Viks charged back to close the first half with two big TD plays in a span of a minute.
The first came when quarterback Gunnar Amos hit Addison Johnson on a 55-yard TD connection with 1:29 to go before half.
After forcing Skyline to punt, Amos found sophomore speedy wide receiver Jonny Plum open down the middle for a 74-yard TD that pulled CdA within 28-15 going into halftime.
It was obvious what Skyline’s game plan was in the final two quarters. The Spartans, who were humbled 45-7 in a loss to Bellevue last week, wanted to shorten the game by running the ball.
They took nearly 7 minutes off the clock on their first second-half possession, settling for a 21-yard field goal from Jason Twaddle that extended the lead to 31-15 with 3:19 to go in the third quarter.
CdA would punt one more time before putting the Spartans on their heels.
The Viks used six plays, scoring when Plum took a reverse and scampered 47 yards. The 2-point conversion pulled CdA within 31-23 with 11:20 to go.
Skyline took more time off the clock, and Twaddle’s 29-yard field goal attempt was too low, going into CdA’s defensive line.
CdA had the ball with 5:33 to go on its 21-yard line.
The Viks quickly marched down the field. That’s when Lunde made the defensive play of the game for the Spartans, intercepting a pass and dashing 84 yards with 2:21 to go.
It had to be troubling that CdA was making season-opening mistakes in the third week of the season.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” Amos said. “That’s something we definitely need to figure out.”