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Sandpoint hangs on to beat Mt. Spokane 28-27

Sandpoint gave up a 21-point lead in the first half Friday and had to come from behind in the second half, but the Bulldogs found just enough to beat Mt. Spokane 28-27.

Levi Irish bulled in from 3 yards out with 9:48 left in the final period for the go-ahead touchdown that turned out to be the last points in the first career win for coach George Yarno Jr.

“I’m really excited about that. But this is a community win,” Yarno said. “Sandpoint is the greatest place in America.”

The touchdown by Irish, who rushed 27 times for 75 yards, erased Mt. Spokane’s first lead of the season, which came early in the third quarter when Mt. Caleb Countryman intercepted Robbie Johnson and raced 52 yards for a pick-six.

But Coby McDonald missed the extra point and the Wildcats (0-2) could not sustain any more drives late to win.

“I’m proud of our kids. We dug ourselves a huge hole and we dug our way out of it,” Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said. “But we couldn’t quite finish there.”

Dillon Lionello gained 98 yards on 14 carries and sophomore quarterback Brady Hill was 12 of 18 for 121 yards and a score even though his receivers dropped a couple long passes.

But it was Sandpoint that came out sharp to start the game.

After forcing a Mt. Spokane punt, quarterback Robbie Johnson found Julian Barajas for a 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 on Sandpoint’s opening drive.

The Bulldogs defense forced its second three-and-out before Sandpoint again drove the field and Johnson hit Spencer Bassett for a 20-yard strike for a quick 14-0 lead.

After the referees called what looked like an incomplete pass a fumble, Sandpoint’s Irish punched the ball in from the 1 to give Sandpoint a 21-point lead. But the Wildcats began to scratch.

On its next drive, quarterback Hill hit Countryman for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Mt. Spokane drove again and Lionello scored from 2 yards out to make it 21-14.

Then just before the half, Mt. Spokane finished off a sustained drive when Sam Spears ran around the right end for 9 yards to tie the game at 21.

But the Wildcats never scored again on offense and the game was decided by the missed extra point.

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