The Moscow football team went into its Friday, senior night game against Sandpoint with something to prove.
The Bulldogs had slammed Lewiston — a team the Bears lost to by two points — and there were rumblings on social media Sandpoint was going to win big.
That was far from the case, as Moscow powered past Sandpoint 32-17 behind a shutdown defense and quarterback Chad Redinger, who accounted for more than 300 yards of total offense.
“Our boys are tired of being disrespected,” Moscow coach Phil Helbling said. “We knew going into this game is that all people had to compare the game to is the head-to-head matchups (with Lewiston) and our kids heard enough of it.
“Their coach talked about calling us out and how there’s nothing in their way, and you know what, there was something in their way and that was the Moscow Bears.”
The fired-up Bears (4-3, 1-0 4A Inland Empire) burst out to a 21-0 lead by halftime.
The first Moscow drive, which took seven minutes, concluded with a roll-out pass from Redinger to Ben Postell from 4 yards out.
Sandpoint’s first drive ended in a four-and-out and the Bears struck again on their next possession, this time on a 9-yard run up the middle by Redinger for a 14-0 advantage.
Long drives were the theme of the game. Moscow capped a 12-play drive in the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run by Brandon Suquet.
Suquet and Redinger did most of the damage for the Bears. Suquet, a junior running back, had 87 yards rushing and added three catches for 37 yards. Redinger rushed for two scores.
“That’s what we try to do every week,” Redinger said of Moscow’s fast start. “(The) coaches came up with a great game plan and we just executed it … our whole offense was clicking tonight.”
Sandpoint (4-3, 0-1) found some space in the second half, but it was too little, too late. The Bulldogs’ first points came on a 29-yard field goal by Dylan Peterson in the third quarter.
Sandpoint didn’t cross the goal line until 280-pound Keith Jensen — normally a linemen — ran in from two yards out early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs’ hopes all but vanished when the Moscow defense swarmed receiver Elijah Larson for a safety on a screen pass later in the quarter.
Sandpoint quarterback Jaxon Pettit finished 13 of 22 for 156 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Redinger passed for 160 yards, with four receivers finishing with at least 31 yards, including Postell, Suquet, Lane Hanson and Jonah Elliss.
Elliss also was a menace on defense, where he nabbed a pair of sacks and a tackle for loss.
A Suquet interception late in the fourth ended Sandpoint’s final drive.
Moscow will have a chance to clinch its second consecutive league title when it hits the road Oct. 25 to face Lakeland.
“Nobody gives this team a chance, and you know what, I’m fine with that,” Helbling said. “We relish that underdog role.
“We’ll prove people day in and day out and win after win that this program is headed in the right direction and this team is headed in the right direction because of these kids.”
Sandpoint 0 0 3 14—17
Moscow 14 7 3 8 — 32
MOSCOW — Ben Postell 4 pass from Chad Redinger (Postell kick), 4:27.
MOSCOW — Redinger 9 run (Postell kick), 1:21.
MOSCOW — Brandon Suquet 4 run (Postell kick), 5:53.
SANDPOINT — Dylan Peterson 29 field goal, 8:44.
MOSCOW — Postell 24 field goal, 3:05.
SANDPOINT — Keith Jensen 2 run (Peterson kick), 11:54.
MOSCOW — Redinger 7 run (kick failed), 7:38.
SANDPOINT — Max Thielbahr 16 pass from Jaxon Pettit (Peterson kick), 5:47.
MOSCOW — Safety, 3:37.
RUSHING — Sandpiont: Braden Kappen 6-34, Gerrit Cox 6-18, Pettit 3-(-6). Moscow: 224-154, Suquet 9-87, Logan Shears 6-27, team 2-18, Trevor Dismukes 3-2.
PASSING — Sandpoint: Pettit 13-22-2—156. Moscow: Redinger 12-17-1—160.
RECEIVING — Sandpoint: Thielbahr 6-71, Kobe Banks 3-43, Elijah Larson 3-21, Cox 1-14, Christian Niemela 1-7. Moscow: Suquet 4-47, Jonah Elliss 1-38, Lane Hanson 2-37, Postell 4-31, Shears 1-7.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @StephanSports.