MERIDIAN—For the third consecutive season, the Rigby Trojans are headed to the 5A state championship game.

Friday night at Meridian High, they took one heck of a wild road to get there. Bruising tailback Zheik Falevai ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns, senior quarterback Tiger Adolpho had a hand in 322 yards and six touchdowns, and the Trojans outlasted the host Warriors in a 55-49, triple-overtime thriller.

After Ryder Thompson broke up a fourth-down pass on Meridian’s third overtime possession— the only defensive stop in the entire game by either team —Adolpho lunged in on fourth-and-goal to send Rigby back to the state final, where they will face Highland next weekend.

“Meridian’s a great football team, and so are we,” said Rigby coach Armando Gonzalez. “It just comes down to who has the ball last—it’s sad someone has to lose on the scoreboard, because there really are no losers in a game like that.”

Gonzalez and the Trojans have seen this type of shootout before—they won the 2019 title by edging Coeur d’Alene, 57-56 in double overtime. Perhaps that experience helped keep the pressure off an offensive group tasked with scoring every time they touched the ball.

“We want to be in those situations,” Falevai said. “Our offensive line is a beast. I think they’re the best in the state, and we always trust that we can move the ball behind them.”

Adolpho completed 21-of-25 passes for 246 yards, with scores to Sam Kunz (10 catches for 131 yards) and Con Dansie (8-92). The dual-threat senior added 76 yards and four scores on the ground, including all three of the Trojans’ scores in overtime.

It was a wild game filled with twists, turns and offensive fireworks. There were zero punts and zero turnovers. With the exception of time expiring at the end of each half, every possession ended in a touchdown until the third overtime (wherein each team gets the ball on the 10-yard line, with four downs to score).

Kross Antonnacchi scored three touchdowns for Meridian (8-4), with Rylie Byington adding two scores. Malakai Martinez ran for a score and threw for 164 yards, including 138 yards and a TD to Quentin Riley.

“Well, the fans got their money’s worth—what a battle that was,” Meridian coach John Zamberlin said. “It was two offenses slugging it out all night. The atmosphere here, it was special, and our guys fought their hearts out. Still, it stings, because it’s hard to get this far.”

Meridian appeared to seize the advantage after Falevai’s fourth-quarter touchdown run, when Judah Argon blocked Cademan Rinne’s extra point to keep Rigby’s lead at six, 35-29.

But after Antonnacchi’s game-tying touchdown run, Hunter Nield burst through the line and blocked Forrest Uminski’s kick to keep the score knotted.

The script flipped in the first OT, with Damien Walker blocking Uminski’s PAT after Byington opened the scoring with a fourth-down TD run. Adolpho soon tied it, 41-41, but Rinne’s PAT sailed wide right.

After Adolpho and Antonnacchi traded touchdowns in the second OT, both teams completed 2-point conversion passes. Meridian had the ball first in the third overtime, and for one of the few times in the game, they faced a tough down-and-distance—fourth-and-goal from the 10.

“We finally got them into a long-yardage situation,” Gonzalez said. “We tried to force them to make a quick throw and have our defensive backs drive on the ball.”

Thompson did just that, diving to break up Martinez’s pass in the end zone. It took Rigby all four downs to score the winning TD, but Adolpho finally lunged in from the 1 to seal the victory.

“When we needed it, defense pulled finally it out for us,” Falevai said. “Those blocked kicks were crazy. Hunter Nield and Damien Walker—you know, players make plays, and those were big-time.”

Sandpoint 29, Blackfoot 28, OT

In a 4A semifinal, Sandpoint and Blackfoot also went to overtime, but Sandpoint quarterback Parker Pettit ran in a 2-point conversion to lift the Bulldogs to a 29-28 win.

The game was tied 21-21 at the end of regulation after Sandpoint scored with 1:05 left. The Broncos scored on their first overtime possession with Austin Ramirez running for a touchdown.

Sandpoint scored and then elected to go for the win in a wild finish.

The game was close throughout.

Blackfoot had trailed 14-7 with 7:43 left, but Carson Trejo ran a reverse in for a 25-yard score, setting up the dramatic closing minutes.

It was Ramirez who put Blackfoot in the lead, scoring on a 10-yard run with 2:24 left to put the Broncos up 21-14.

The Bulldogs took advantage of a 77-yard run by Gerrit Cox and Pettit found Nathan Robere for a 3-yard score to knot the game at 21-21 and set up the overtime.

The Broncos finish the season 6-6.

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RIGBY 55, MERIDIAN 49

Rigby 7 15 7 6 6 8 6—55

Meridian 7 7 15 6 6 8 0—49

First Quarter

RIG—Zheik Falevai 5 run (Forrest Uminski kick)

MER—Rylie Byington 13 run (Cademan Rinne kick)

Second Quarter

RIG—Tiger Adolpho 1 run (Uminski kick)

MER—Kross Antonnacchi 1 run (Rinne kick)

RIG—Sam Kunz 9 pass from Adolpho (Falevai run)

Third Quarter

MER—Quentin Riley 60 pass from Malakai Martinez (Marco Del Rio pass from Martinez)

RIG—Con Dansie 19 pass from Adolpho (Uminski kick)

MER—Martinez 21 run (Rinne kick)

Fourth Quarter

RIG—Falevai 2 run (kick blocked)

MER—Antonnacchi 5 run (kick blocked)

Overtime

MER—Byington 3 run (kick blocked)

RIG—Adolpho 5 run (kick failed)

Overtime 2

RIG—Adolpho 1 run (Kunz pass from Adolpho)

MER—Antonnacchi 9 pass from Martinez (Riley pass from Martinez)

Overtime 3

RIG—Adolpho 1 run

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Rigby: Falevai 28-168, Adolpho 21-76, Lucas Mikkola 2-6, Coleman Lords 1 (-1). Meridian: Antonnacchi 15-51, Del Rio 10-49, Rylie Byington 5-58, Martinez 5-27.

PASSING—Rigby: Adolpho 21-25 246. Meridian: Martinez 10-13 164.

RECEIVING—Rigby: Kunz 10-131, Dansie 8-92, Falevai 2-14, Lords 1-9. Meridian: Riley 6-138, Antonnacchi 2-14, Davis Thacker 2-12.

 

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