VICTOR — Darby head coach Jeff Snavely wanted a win so bad for his Tigers Saturday against the Victor Pirates he made a friendly bet with his boys.
"I told them I'd wear a dress all week at practice if they beat them," Snavely said afterward on the Victor football field. "Now I gotta eat that."
Snavely's Tigers put on a show in the fourth quarter to secure their coach's wardrobe change — and his team's first win against the Pirates in his tenure, a 36-6 decision against Darby's Bitterroot rival. It was the first time the Tigers had toppled the Pirates since moving from Class B to Western C 8-man in 2010.
A fourth-quarter surge by Darby clinched the win.
The Tigers led by just one score after three quarters, 14-6, and a Darby fumble on the Victor 24-yard line gave the Pirates life with 10:25 remaining in the game.
The Pirates were held to a three-and-out, though, and on the first play of Darby's next drive, senior quarterback Nelson Smith found his playmaker Dylan Parks for a 40-yard scoring pitch-and-catch.
"That play there we had ran it once earlier and Nelson overthrew him, and the timing was just off," Snavely said. "(Right there) I felt it was time to do that play again.
"Parks just had a big run — I knew he was tired and I was wondering on the sideline how he was going to react to (the play call). He did exactly what we expect from him."
The play call had a lot of moving parts. First a play action, then a fake-pass to a screen from Smith while Parks feigned a short route. Parks then turned on the jets and Smith hit his fellow senior in stride for six.
"He makes my job pretty easy," Smith said of Parks. "It's pretty nice watching him run it."
Smith tacked on the 2-point conversion with a pass to Cole Kayser, putting Darby ahead comfortably, 22-6, with 8:07 remaining.
Less than two minutes later, the Tigers forced a fumble on Victor's 1-yard line. This time is was Smith's turn to plunge into the end zone, which he did on Darby's ensuing play, putting the Tigers up by a comfortable 28-6 margin.
"We started having kids with cramps (in the fourth quarter) and that's no excuse, but we started shuffling and shuffling," Victor coach Curt McElroy said. "When you shuffle too many kids and you have too many starters that aren't in there, it can make it tough."
In the first half, however, Victor looked more than capable of competing with Darby.
The Pirates promptly answered Darby's opening touchdown with a score on their ensuing drive. Victor put together an eight-play drive, with long runs from Bob Hotchkiss, Tristin Chavez and Robert Crosbie in the series. Hotchkiss ultimately got the call on the 1-yard line and punched it in for six to close Victor's deficit to two, 8-6.
Darby answered with a long touchdown run from Parks two series later, however. Parks, a returning all-stater for Darby, had three touchdowns on Saturday. He finished the first half with an interception, and he ended the day — and the scoring — with a 25-yard pick six to ice the game in the fourth quarter.
Coach Snavely — despite next week's wardrobe change — couldn't have been happier.
"It feels great, but I don't think I know it yet. I'm still in that game mode, that attention mode; is it real?" Snavely said. "I've had a lot of talented teams over the years and we got blown out, blown out, blown out (against Victor).
"...This year, they stepped up to the challenge."
Up next, Darby (1-1 in Western C 8-man, 1-1 overall) hosts Plains on Saturday at 1 p.m. Victor (0-2, 0-2) hosts Clark Fork also on Saturday at 1 p.m.