MERIDIAN In the biggest, closest games, the little things often determine the outcome.
That was the case Friday at Mountain View High, where the Capital Eagles did just enough to secure a 26-19 victory over the host Mavericks in a back-and-forth 5A Southern Idaho Conference slugfest.
Senior tailback TJ Clarke rushed for 142 yards and a TD for Capital, which avoided a second straight 0-2 start.
We knew these first two games were going to be tough, Capital coach Todd Simis said. Playing at Eagle and at Mountain View, those are two of the toughest, best-coached programs in the state. It was a battle tonight, but we were able to grind it out and were definitely glad to be 1-1 rather than 0-2.
Clarke was crucial to Capitals methodical attack, carrying 33 times and picking up several big first downs. Senior quarterback Makena Simis added 181 passing yards and two short rushing TDs for Capital, which outgained Mountain View 189-79 on the ground.
The guys up front made it happen, Clarke said. Weve got some new guys at that position, but theyre very good guys. Were lucky to be running behind them.
Neither team was sharp early. Capital got the games first touchdown on a blocked punt recovery by Zach Krishnek, but the Eagles had several long drives stall in the red zone.
Mountain View (1-1) only managed 98 first-half yards including 9 net rushing yards but tied the game on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kai Turner to Josh Buss.
The Eagles finally finished off a drive just 11 seconds before halftime, with Simis scoring from 5 yards out for a 12-6 lead. Buss returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but a holding penalty erased the score.
In games like this, it comes down to one or two plays, Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said. A holding penalty here, a dropped pass there, a missed assignment on defense. The kids played hard, but those little tiny things add up, and that was the difference in the game tonight.
Momentum changed direction quickly and often in the second half. Mountain View took a 13-12 lead when sophomore backup Garrett Collingham forced into action when Turner limped off the field tossed a 32-yard touchdown to Kenny Webster on his first and only snap of the game.
After a Mountain View fumble gave Capital the ball at the 7, Clarke punched it in on fourth-and-goal for an 18-13 Capital lead.
The Mavericks answered quickly, driving the field in three plays and taking a 19-18 lead on Turners 3-yard TD run.
Capital reclaimed the lead on a clock-chewing drive punctuated by Simis 1-yard TD plunge. After forcing a Mountain View punt, Capital embarked on another long drive, burning nearly six minutes before giving the ball back with 1:19 remaining.
Mountain View drove to the Capital 39, but the Eagles defense held to preserve the victory.
Our defense came up big, coach Simis said. We made some mistakes and committed too many penalties, but the guys really stepped up and made the plays we needed at the end.