The Daily Inter Lake
EUREKA — Eureka is back in the state title game. This time it’s at home.
A pair of first quarter strikes put Eureka in control early as the Lions ground out a 31-6 victory over Class B powerhouse Fairfield in the state football semifinals on Saturday.
“Our kids made so many great plays,” Eureka coach Trevor Utter said.
“It was unbelieveable.”
Lions senior quarterback Garrett Graves connected on a 42-yard touchdown pass to Hank Dunn to give Eureka a 7-0 lead, and after a big play from Fairfield, Graves found senior Brenton Pluid on a 51-yard touchdown pass to extend the Lions’ lead to 14-6.
“Brenton Pluid had a huge game,” Utter said.
“Hank Dunn’s touchdown catch and Brenton, both of his, they were those 50-50 balls (where) you throw them up there and trust your receiver to make a play. They just went up and won an individual battle to make that play. It was really impressive.”
Graves and Pluid connected late in the second quarter to take a 21-6 halftime lead and Graves put the game away in the fourth quarter, scoring a 9-yard touchdown run eight seconds into the final frame to turn the game into a rout.
A late Simon Granberg field goal capped the scoring for Eureka.
“Offensively, they went up and made plays every chance they got in the passing game,” Utter said.
“(Fairfield) really stacked the box and made it tough to run. We had some success in the passing game. It was just a great team victory. The effort by everybody was maximum effort.”
Graves was 14 for 23 passing for 254 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions and had a team-high 79 rushing yards.
Pluid had four catches for 102 yards.
Jonathan Schmidt had four tackles and an interception for the Eureka defense.
Eureka held Fairfield to just 89 yards rushing and caused three turnovers.
“They were in the right spots all the time,” Utter said. “They studied film. Coach (Chad) Dunn had an amazing game plan for them. They just fly and make plays. It was very impressive. Fairfield is averaging 34 points a game and they had one touchdown. It was a fairly long run, one big play essentially. Our defense did an amazing job.”
Eureka moves on to host the state title game for the first time since 1990. The Lions will play another team from the former 1B, Northern second seed Shelby. The Coyotes beat Missoula Loyola 28-27 on Saturday, scoring a touchdown in the closing minutes to advance to the title game for the first time since 1988.
“They’re a very balanced team,” Utter said of Shelby. “They’ve got a great quarterback and a great running back, a huge offensive line that is very athletic. We’re well aware of what they do. They throw the ball well, they run the ball well. It will be a great challenge next week too.”
Fairfield 6 0 0 0 — 6
Eureka 14 7 0 10 — 31
E — Hank Dunn 42 pass from Garrett Graves (Simon Granberg kick), 8:25
F — Ryder Meyer 28 run (kick failed), 3:48
E — Brenton Pluid 51 pass from Graves (Granberg kick), 0:54
E — Pluid 14 pass from Graves (Granberg kick), 3:48
E — Graves 9 run (Granberg kick), 11:52
E — Granberg 27 field goal, 3:06
Loyola 7 7 7 6 – 27
Shelby 7 7 7 7 – 28
S – Zach Torgerson 6 run (Wyatt Brusven kick)
L – Ryan Tirrell 5 run (kick good)
L - David Koppang 40 pass from Scott Twite (kick good)
S – Brusven 12 pass from Aaron White (Brusven kick)
L – Koppang 65 pass from Twite (kick good)
S – Brusven 35 pass from White (Brusven kick)
L – Tirrell 7 run (kick blocked)
S – Torgerson 5 pass from White (Brusven kick)