Hidden Valley appeared to have its first state football championship in its pocket.

Then the ball hit the turf.

In a game where the Mustangs’ passing game rewrote the record books, it was Hidden Valley’s miscues which helped second-seeded Santiam Christian claim the Class 3A football title, beating No. 1 Hidden Valley 41-34 Saturday afternoon at Roseburg High School’s Finlay Field.

The Eagles’ Ely Kennel busted off a 55-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to pull Santiam Christian into a 34-34 tie. The Mustangs, who had suffered self-inflicted wounds all game, succumbed to one final blow.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs’ Jeremiah Noga — near the end of a historic afternoon — coughed up the ball at the Hidden Valley 19 and Santiam Christian’s Seth Austin recovered, setting up the Eagles with 2:43 to play.

Santiam Christian milked the clock, forcing two Hidden Valley timeouts, and the Eagles ultimately scored when the Mustangs defense simply stood up and opened the path for Eagles running back Marcus Fullbright from one yard out, bumping SC to a 41-34 lead with 1:06 to play.

Sam Vidlak, who threw for a state championship game-record 479 yards, guided his Mustangs into Santiam Christian territory in the final minute with a 13-yard completion to Noga and a 15-yard personal foul against the Eagles. But on first and 10 from the Eagles 25, Vidlak shot for brother Nate Vidlak in the end zone, but a holding penalty backed the Mustangs up to the SC 45, and Sam Vidlak was sacked to end the game.

Noga set a pair of championship game records with 18 receptions for 270 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers topped those of Beaverton’s Jesse Levin, who had 13 for 243 in the Beavers’ 1997 win over McNary. Sam Vidlak, who was 39-for-55 passing, bested Beaverton quarterback Taylor Barton’s 447 in that same 1997 game.

Fullbright proved to be a load against Hidden Valley, rushing for 198 yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries. Kennel finished with 144 yards.

Santiam Christian took a 14-7 edge into halftime, with Fullbright punching in a pair of short touchdown runs, and Fullbright added his third TD carry early in the third to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead. The Mustangs bounced back with two touchdowns in a four-minute span, the second being a 17-yard pass from Sam Vidlak to Lawrence Matusik, tying the game at 20-20 with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.

Fullbright busted off a 50-yard run for his fourth score of the game, but the Mustangs answered just 90 seconds later on a 12-yard pass from Sam Vidlak to Nate Vidlak, then took the lead when a one-yard run by Tanner Noble put Hidden Valley ahead 34-27 with 5 minutes to play.

Hidden Valley was penalized 15 times for 151 yards. It was the Mustangs’ first shot at a football title since losing the Class AA championship to Gladstone in 1978.

Santiam Christian 7 7 6 21 — 41

Hidden Valley 7 0 6 21 — 34

First Quarter

SC — Fullbright 1 run (L. Mehlschau kick), 7:14

HV — Noga 35 pass from S. Vidlak (S. Vidlak kick), 4:25

Second Quarter

SC — Fullbright 2 run (L. Mehlschau kick), 0:08

Third Quarter

SC — Fullbright 11 run (pass failed), 9:05

HV — Noble 3 run (kick failed), 3:33

Fourth Quarter

HV — Matusik 17 pass from S. Vidlak (S. Vidlak kick), 11:05

SC — Fullbright 50 run (L. Mehlschau kick), 10:21

HV — N. Vidlak 12 pass from S. Vidlak (S. Vidlak kick), 8:54

HV — Noble 1 run (S. Vidlak kick), 5:08

SC — Kennel 55 run (L. Mehlschau kick), 2:52

SC — Fullbright 1 run (L. Mehlschau kick), 1:06

Donovan Brink can be reached at dbrink@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4219.

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