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PREP FOOTBALL: Trojan turnover

| August 29, 2020 1:28 AM

SANDPOINT — Post Falls has been known as an offensive team for the last few years.

Now about that defense ...

The Trojans forced five turnovers, all in the second half, to pull away from the Sandpoint Bulldogs in a 35-14 win for both schools at War Memorial Field on Friday night.

"I thought our defense played outstanding," Post Falls coach Blaine Bennett said. "Justin Farnsworth, our new defensive coordinator, did an outstanding job for his first time at the varsity level. The whole defensive staff put together a great gameplan."

"Offensively, we have a staple of taking care of the football and we didn't do that," Sandpoint head coach Ryan Knowles said. "It's very uncharacteristic of us. I think we fumbled more tonight than we did all last year combined."

After trailing 14-7 at the half, the Bulldogs received the second half kickoff. On the return, senior Elijah Larson fumbled the ball and the Trojans recovered it. Eight plays later, Post Falls found the end zone on 4th and 4 from the 6-yard-line when quarterback Jaxon Anderson found James Lee across the middle on a slant.

On the ensuing possession, Sandpoint fumbled again giving the Trojans the ball deep in SHS territory. But the Bulldogs defense stood tall and forced Post Falls into a field goal attempt. Sandpoint needed someone to make a play and senior Tag Benefield answered the call, blocking the field goal and returning it 78 yards for a touchdown. The score was now 21-14 in favor of the Trojans.

That was the spark Sandpoint needed. Post Falls drove the ball all the way down to the SHS 10-yard-line on their next drive, but the Sandpoint defense didn't break and forced a turnover on downs. The score remained 21-14 entering the fourth quarter.

Post Falls got the ball at the 20-yard-line and marched inside the Sandpoint 5-yard-line in less than three minutes. On a 4th and 1 at the 4, the Trojans plowed into the end zone to take a 28-14 advantage with 7:42 remaining.

The Bulldogs got the ball back and three plays later junior quarterback Gerrit Cox threw a pick. With the ball at the 2-yard-line, Post Falls ran it in to take a 35-14 lead with 6:16 left, essentially sealing the win.

Nic McLeod ran for 101 yards for Post Falls, which hosts Rigby next Friday.

"It was a little hit and miss offensively tonight," Bennett said. "We've got a new quarterback and some new guys up front offensively. We've got some playmakers on the perimeter, but it's tough to get them the ball all of the time."

Besides the first drive of the game, the Bulldogs offense only crossed midfield three times Friday night. Cox, who was an all-league running back and specialist last year, got the start at quarterback for Sandpoint.

Junior Auggie Lehman came in for a brief moment, otherwise, Cox played quarterback the entire game. The Bulldogs stuck to the ground game but it wasn't working. Post Falls held Sandpoint to 84 rushing yards on 25 carries.

Knowles said the Trojans implemented a new defense and it gave the Bulldogs offense trouble all night. He added that the team had complete confidence in Cox at quarterback.

"Gerrit's a ball player and he's going to be on the field period," Knowles said, "so its just a matter of those other [quarterbacks] proving that they can make good decisions and when they get their shot, they got to run with it."

Knowles said he was hoping to lean on his defense against Post Falls but they struggled handling adversity and were unable to weather the storm.

"We got a lot of work to do," he said. "It's going to take us a few games to figure out who plays under pressure, so when you don't really know you just try and motivate them and get after them. I feel like I spent most of the game kind of barking and getting after them and losing my voice. It's not because they don't work hard, it's just a different level when you play a school like Post Falls."

Anderson had 153 passing yards for the Trojans and Post Falls racked up 180 yards on the ground. Cox had 58 rushing yards for the Bulldogs and senior Braden Kappen caught eight passes for 50 yards.

Sandpoint (0-1) heads to Coeur d'Alene next Friday.

Post Falls 7 7 7 14 — 35

Sandpoint 7 0 7 0 — 14

First quarter

PF — Nic McLeod 1 run (Logan Koeller kick)

Spt — Gerritt Cox 18 run (Elek Christoferson kick)

Second quarter

PF — Josiah Shields 8 pass from Jaxon Anderson (Koeller kick)

Third quarter

PF — James Lee 6 pass from Anderson (Koeller kick)

Spt — Tag Benefield 78 blocked field goal return (Christoferson kick)

Fourth quarter

PF — McLeod 4 run (Koeller kick)

PF — Noah Range 2 run (Koeller kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — PF, Anderson 17-73, McLeod 17-101, Graves 2-1, Rutherford 1-(-2), Range 4-8, Pine 1-(-1).

Spt, Benefield 4-7, Cox 20-58, Christoferson 2-19.

RECEIVING — McLeod 1-26, Lee 1-10, Shields 3-22, Hauser 7-52, Rodriguez 3-24, Rutherford 3-19. Spt, Thielbahr 1-(-2), Ennis 2-16, Larson 1-5, Benefield 1-19, Kappen 7-50.

PASSING — not available.