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Idaho State football: Coeur d’Alene holds off Highland, advances to 5A title game

Coeur d’Alene is heading back to the Idaho 5A State championship game.

And it’s just 84 miles down the road.

The Vikings’ defense stiffened in the second half Friday at Coeur d’Alene High, holding off fellow state power Highland 21-17 in a white-knuckle semifinal.

Coeur d’Alene (9-2) will face Rigby (10-1) at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow in the state title game, the Vikings’ sixth appearance since 2010. A date and time have yet to be determined.

A fourth-down stop lifted CdA, which avenged a 28-21 loss to Highland (8-4) in Pocatello on Sept. 27.

Highland drove down the field on its final drive trailing 21-17, boosted by three third-down conversions and a pass interference call on the Vikings.

On fourth-and-goal on CdA’s 2-yard line, Highland appeared primed to take the lead, but quarterback Easton Durham’s short pass went in and out of the hands of a receiver in the end zone.

CdA regained possession with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left ran out the clock against Highland, a team it has faced 10 times since 2012.

“Huge stop,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said. “And offensively, it was a game where we had to take advantage of our possessions, because we wouldn’t get a lot (due to Highland’s clock-eating running game),”

Vikings receiver and defensive back Colbey Nosworthy said he breathed a sigh of relief when Highland’s final pass went incomplete.

“I thought (the Highland receiver) caught it originally,” Nosworthy said. “Then when I saw it hit the ground, I knew we won.”

CdA junior quarterback Jack Prka boosted the offense, connecting with Gunner Giullio on a second-quarter touchdown pass and running in a 1-yard touchdown run, a play set up by a 50-yard pass to Nosworthy.

Highland, which led 17-14 at halftime after Ian Hersey hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired, scored its first two touchdowns on busted CdA pass coverage, including a fourth-and-16 situation in which the Rams’ Braxton Wilhem was left wide open in the end zone.

Prka gave CdA the lead for good when he broke containment late in the third quarter, getting around the edge on a 30-yard touchdown run.

“This game was a definite grind,” Prka said. “It was back and forth, but we just had to believe.”

CdA will face a Rigby team next weekend that handled previously undefeated Rocky Mountain 31-9 Friday.

The Vikings beat Rigby 31-26 in CdA in their season opener.