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A healthy Via leads Ferris past Shadle Park, 13-10

Ferris coach Jim Sharkey thought his football team was gaining traction.

Now he’ll have to re-evaluate just where his team is, but he won’t turn back a 13-10 victory over Shadle Park in a Greater Spokane League crossover Friday at Albi Stadium.

After opening the season with three straight losses, Ferris (2-3) seems to be making strides. That’s largely because of the addition of senior running back Jonny Via, who returned last week from summer knee surgery.

He suffered tears of his lateral and medial meniscus at a summer college camp, requiring surgery to shave his lateral and for a full repair of the medial.

Via gained 157 yards against Shadle to go with 130 he had last week.

“It feels good to get two wins after a rough start and it feels good to be out here with my guys again,” Via said. “But we need to really kick it up. No more mental mistakes and come out firing right from the start instead of slow and choppy.”

Braden Brock made a 32-yard field goal with 3:31 to go to extend the Saxons’ lead to 13-3 with 3:31 remaining.

Moments later, Shadle quarterback Carson Doyle hit Vinny Epefanio on an 80-yard scoring strike, pulling the Highlanders (3-2) within the final margin.

The Highlanders onside kick was recovered by the Saxons’ Max Thompson, and Ferris converted a big third down to run out the clock.

“There were so many mistakes offensively,” Sharkey said. “We’re going in a better way – we’re winning games and you don’t want to discount a win. But to be competitive next week and the weeks after we have to make improvements and make better decisions.”

The first half was a combination of good defense and ineffective offenses for both teams.

Via was responsible for 101 of the Saxons’ 145 first-half yards.

On Ferris’ scoring drive in the first quarter, Via churned 43 yards to give the Saxons first-and-goal at Shadle’s 5. Three plays later, Eric Mast bulled in from a yard out with 2:08 to go.

Shadle’s deepest drive into Ferris territory concluded with a 31-yard field goal from Xavier Hicks with 7:09 remaining before halftime. The Highlanders had first-and-goal at the 9 but a snap over the head of quarterback Carson Doyle halted the Highlanders’ progress.

Three times Ferris was in prime position, moving to Shadle’s 28, 21 and 19. But the Saxons came away empty on each possession.

McCall Penna had two interceptions for Ferris. And Thompson made a touchdown-saving tackle when Shadle had fourth-and-goal at Ferris’ 5.

“We were misaligned and burned a timeout,” Sharkey said. “The kids did a good job recognizing (Shadle’s set) and the route. Max (Thompson) is a smart kid. That’s why he’s looking to go to the Ivy League.”