Grangeville’s Austin Parks caught seven passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns, Layton Harris threw for 265 yards and five TDs, and Grangeville rolled to a 48-34 state semifinal victory over Nampa Christian on Friday at Campbell Field.
Grangeville (8-3) advances to play Aberdeen for the 2A state title next weekend at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow. Nampa Christian (8-3) falls one game short of reaching its first state final since 1996.
The passing attack helped the Bulldogs build an early lead. A 21-yard strike from Harris to Parks made it 7-0 after one quarter of play, and the duo was just getting started.
Parks caught scoring passes of 11 and 9 yards in the second quarter — sandwiched around Nampa Christian’s first score on a 46-yard catch and run by junior Nick Tuttle — as Grangeville grabbed a 19-7 advantage.
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Touchdown runs of 5 yards by Luke Stokes and 55 yards by Jake Kaschmitter made it 33-7 as the Bulldogs looked to run away. But senior quarterback Steve Tiersma barreled in for a 1-yard TD in the final minute of the quarter, cutting the deficit to 33-14.
Grangeville opened the second-half scoring, taking advantage of a botched fake punt to make it 40-14 on a 5-yard pass from Harris to Stokes. But the Trojans continued to rally behind Tuttle. The speedy junior took a jet sweep 35 yards to the end zone, then intercepted Harris for the second time to set up an 11-yard scoring pass from Tiersma to Andrew Anderson.
“We fought hard,” Tiersma said. “Things didn’t end up going the way we wanted them to — and that happens in life sometimes — but I’m proud of the guys. We fought like lions, and we never gave up.”
Tiersma answered with another 1-yard scoring run, but the Trojans’ rally ran out of steam.
“We fell into too big of a hole,” first-year Nampa Christian coach Jerry Smith said. “[Parks] made some big plays for them, and it really hurt us that we didn’t capitalize on our first two drives.
“The loss is disappointing right now, but we had a great season. We’re really going to miss our senior class, but this is definitely something for us to build on.”