North Fremont's Hank Richardson chases Firth's Gage Vasquez.

North Fremont’s Hank Richardson chases Firth’s Gage Vasquez.

North Fremont suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon to an all-too familiar foe.

Firth (9-2) beat North Fremont 12-8 in the 2A state semifinals, falling to the Cougars in the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Things looked promising for the Huskies (9-1) on their first drive after Jordan Lenz returned the opening kickoff 30-plus yards. But, North Fremont’s first drive stalled out and the Huskies turned the ball over on downs.

Subsequent drives mirrored the first as both teams forced the other team into a plethora of fourth downs and both teams went for nearly all of them.

Firth scored in the first quarter but failed on a two-point try. The Cougars took a 6-0 lead into halftime.

Firth drove the ball down the field in the third quarter converting multiple fourth-downs including a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Gage Vasquez.

North Fremont’s first three quarters mirrored their regular season game with Firth where they came back from down 21-8 in the fourth quarter to win 22-21.

North Fremont rallied in the fourth quarter driving down field then stalling at the 37. On fourth down and 16, Dax Cherry completed a 28-yard pass across his body as he rolled to his right. Running back AJ Hill reeled in the pass to give the Huskies the ball on the nine-yard line.

The Huskies worked their way to the two-yard line where quarterback Lenz crossed the goal line on a run off tackle but the touchdown was called back because of a penalty. Lenz then threw a touchdown to Hill who snagged the ball with a leaping catch to put North Fremont on the board.

After a Firth pass interference call, North Fremont converted a short two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 12-8.

“When we needed a little bit of magic we were able to do that and keep ourselves in striking distance a lot like the last game (against Firth), but we couldn’t quite find another last possession drive to win,” coach Ben Lenz said.

The Huskies defense stopped Firth on consecutive drives to give them the ball with 4:56 and 1:25 left on the clock but the Huskies couldn’t convert.

Firth held the North Fremont team who puts up 300 to 400 yards rushing on a weekly basis to 83 rushing yards.

Lenz said a strong front seven with physical, smart linebackers who react well and use their athleticism allowed Firth to slow the Huskies’ run game.

“Give Firth a lot of credit,” Ben Lenz said. “They were tough up front and their backers really played well for them. You have to give a lot of credit to them and their defense. They really stepped up and made it challenging.”

Angel Romero led North Fremont’s running backs with two carries for 38 yards, Hill added nine carries for 18 yards, Jordan Lenz added eight carries for 15 yards and Carson Packer added five carries for 12 yards.

Lenz completed five of 12 passes for 55 yards. Hill caught three passes for 54 yards and completed a four-yard pass to Lenz.

North Fremont will only lose four seniors to graduation but that list include some important players like star quarterback Jordan Lenz, star running back Hill, and starting defensive backs Cruz Estrada and Justin Gutierrez.

“The future looks bright,” Ben Lenz said. “The standard’s been set over the last few years by these kids who are graduating and the kids before them. I like the direction we’re going. I’m super proud of all of them. They left it all out there today. They’re a great group of kids to coach and we have a great community that supports these kids to no end.”

-Koster Kennard/Standard Journal

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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