BOISE—Every state championship is a special achievement—a moment in time to be remembered and cherished.
For the Rigby Trojans, it’s becoming a habit. And their latest victory might go down as the most memorable yet.
An epic rally to repeat as champions on the Blue Turf of Boise State. Three state titles in four years. And a stunning fourth-quarter comeback that cements the Trojans’ status as Idaho’s premier 5A football program.
Junior quarterback Luke Flowers threw for 312 yards with a touchdown and scrambled in for a crucial fourth-quarter TD, while safety Jack Boudrero helped force two huge takeaways in the final two minutes as the Trojans toppled previously unbeaten Meridian, 28-21, at Albertsons Stadium.
“This is surreal,” Rigby coach Armando Gonzalez said. “It’s amazing what can happen when people get behind a cause that’s bigger than any one person. This group has bought into that, and I’m blessed to be here.”
Things looked grim through three quarters as Rigby trailed 21-7, mired by turnovers on offense and struggling to stop Meridian’s ball-control rushing attack. But the Trojans (11-2) ripped off 21 unanswered points in a magical fourth quarter that included three touchdowns and three takeaways.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Flowers said. “We leaned on each other and never doubted.”
The rally started with Sam Gamino’s six-yard TD run. Rigby tried an onside kick, but Meridian (11-1) recovered. Two plays later, however, the Trojans forced a fumble to keep it a one-possession game.
Rigby drove to the Meridian 5, but lost a fumble for its third turnover of the night. The Trojans’ defense stepped up again, forcing a punt to get the ball back with under six minutes to play.
Flowers—whose offense had been on the field most of the quarter—capitalized against a tiring Meridian defense, driving to the 5 again, where the Trojans faced fourth-and-goal.
On the game’s most critical play, Flowers looked left, didn’t like what he saw, tucked the ball and bulldozed just inside the right pylon to make it 21-20 with 2:26 to play.
“They did a good job covering it, I saw they had three [defenders] over two [receivers],” Flowers said. “I had to take matters into my own hands and get it in the end zone.”
True to his aggressive form, Gonzalez went for two and the lead. Flowers fired a quick lateral to Brady Packer—who was double-covered most of the night after dominating Eagle and Rocky Mountain the past two playoff weeks—in the left flat. Packer plowed through two would-be tacklers to give Rigby its first lead of the night, 22-21.
“We’ve been here before, and it doesn’t faze these kids,” Gonzalez said. “You sense the momentum of the moment, and we wanted to go for two and try to win it.”
Meridian wasn’t done yet, though. The Warriors quickly moved the ball to Rigby’s 24, needing just a field goal to win. But as quarterback Zeke Martinez dropped back to throw, a swarming Rigby pass rush hit his right arm. The ball popped into the waiting hands of Boudrero, who raced 69 yards for a TD and a 28-21 lead.
“I still can’t believe it,” Boudrero said. “Crazy stuff happens when you trust yourself and try to make plays. We knew we had to force some turnovers, and that one just landed right in my lap.”
Rigby again went for two to make it a two-possession game, but Meridian got the stop. Needing a touchdown to tie the game with 1:28 remaining, the Warriors fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, with Boudrero stripping the ball to seal Rigby’s victory.
“That’s why he’s the state player of the year defensively,” Gonzalez said. “We knew Meridian was going to move the ball on us tonight—it came down to us stripping the ball and creating takeaways. That’s exactly what we did, and [Boudrero] is one of the best at it.”
With Packer drawing extra attention, Kade Steffler (nine catches, 101 yards and Rigby’s first-half TD) and Jase Benedict (nine catches, 82 yards) were among the many playmakers who stepped up for the Trojans. Lukas Mikkola (55 yards rushing) and Gamino (40 yards, TD) provided just enough of a ground attack to keep Meridian’s defense honest. And the defense dominated the second half, finishing with four total takeaways.
“You’ve got to play all four quarters,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t play a sharp half of football, but we still had 24 minutes left, you know? These kids sure made the most of it.”
RIGBY 28, MERIDIAN 21
Meridian 7 7 7 0—21
Rigby 0 7 0 21—28
MER—Rylie Byington 7 run (Isaac Vargas kick)
MER—Marco Del Rio 2 run (Vargas kick)
RIG—Kade Steffler 22 pass from Luke Flowers (Ben Witherspoon kick)
MER—Byington 5 run (Vargas kick)
RIG—Sam Gamino 6 run (Witherspoon kick)
RIG—Flowers 5 run (Packer pass from Flowers)
RIG—Jack Boudrero 69 interception return (run failed)
RUSHING—Meridian: Byington 12-76, Del Rio 10-34, Luke St. Michell 9-34, Zeke Martinez 1 (-6). Rigby: Lukas Mikkola 9-55, Sam Gamino 9-40, Payton Klingler 1-5, Flowers 5 (-9).
PASSING—Meridian: Martinez 8-14-2 124. Rigby: Flowers 31-44-1 312.
RECEIVING—Meridian: Corban Freese 3-70, Griffin Deere 2-23, Byington 2-20, Del Rio 1-11. Rigby: Steffler 9-101, Jase Benedict 9-82, Brevin Larsen 3-50, Brady Packer 4-37, Zxaeb Falevai 2-14, Koen Peck 1-12, Jacob Flowers 1-9, Mikkola 2-7.
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