EAGLE Few expected the Eagle High football team to be a contender this year. The Mustangs proved the doubters wrong, winning eight games and finishing in a first-place tie atop the 5A Southern Idaho Conference standings.
But Friday night in a game Eagle was favored to win the magic ran out. Instead, a stunned crowd watched in silence as Lake City opened the state playoffs with a 24-10 victory at Thunder Stadium.
Junior tailback Gavan Rosteck rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Lake City snagged four interceptions and held the Eagle offense to just three points. The Timberwolves also outgained the Mustangs 343-129 on the ground, dominating the time of possession.
Lake City was just better than us on the line of scrimmage, Eagle coach Paul Peterson said. Their ability to run the football limited the amount of possessions in the game. That magnified our turnovers and we really never established any momentum.
After a slow start to the game, the Timberwolves struck first with a methodical 65-yard scoring drive capped by Rostecks punishing 9-yard TD run.
The Eagle offense sputtered, but special teams provided a spark when senior Austin Diffey broke a 70-yard punt return TD in the second quarter. A successful extra point gave Eagle a 7-6 lead.
Lake City let a golden opportunity slip away on its next possession when Rosteck lost a fumble inside the 1-yard line. But Eagle gave the ball right back as senior defensive end Bailey Anderson intercepted a screen pass and rumbled into Eagle territory, setting up Andrew Hockings 31-yard field goal for a 9-7 Lake City lead just before halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Lake City seized command in the fourth with a 91-yard drive capped by Rostecks 4-yard run. The 5-foot-10, 250-pound junior steamrolled Eagles defensive front, averaging 9.9 yards per carry.
We stepped up, Rosteck said. I was mad I lost that fumble, but you just have to pick your head up, go back out there and do whats best for your team.
A 41-yard field goal by Layne Leisten kept Eagles hopes alive, but Lake City responded, taking a 24-10 lead on Jerry Louie-McGees 5-yard TD run and successive two-point conversion. Eagles final two desperation drives ended with interceptions as the Timberwolves celebrated their first trip to the state semifinals since 2007.
Holding Eagle to 10 points, I couldnt be happier with the way our defense played, Lake City coach Van Troxel said. We were the underdogs, no doubt, but our team came together and got the job done.
Diffey finished with 129 total yards and the special teams TD for Eagle, which finishes the season 8-4.
Im extremely proud of this group, Peterson said. Very few people thought we would win eight games this year. ... Im walking out of here with my head held high, and I hope my players do, too.