The final score of Saturday's semifinal football between Dimond and Service doesn't show how close the Lynx came to upsetting Service at Anchorage Football Stadium.
Being the only team in the large-school semifinals with a losing record made the Lynx the underdogs, but they led by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before Service caught fire and rallied for a 47-27 win.
The victory sends the Cougars to the state championship game for the fourth straight season. They'll meet West in the First National Bowl title game at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
After a scoreless third quarter came a wild final frame during which Service (8-2) scored five touchdowns and Dimond (4-6) scored two.
Service quarterback C.J. Toomer threw three touchdowns and ran for two more and his 227 passing yards brought his season total to 2,624, establishing an unofficial single-season state passing record with a game to play. The old record was 2,559 yards, put up by West's Conor Feckley in 2011.
"It's awesome," Toomer said. "But personal stats don't mean much. It's all about team play."
Toomer threw a pretty touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't his arm that put the Cougars in charge. Service's ground game picked up considerably, with the bulk of the damage coming from Levi Hansen, who finished with 161 yards.
"In the second and third (quarter), we almost stopped running the ball and I told the coaches we had to establish the run again," Toomer said. "Levi, he's about 200 pounds and runs like a 4.6 (40-yard dash), so we decided to put him back there."
Hansen scored on runs of 37 and 60 yards, but his biggest run may have come on a fourth-and-4 situation with about eight minutes to play. Service trailed 21-20 when Hansen carried the ball left and crashed down to the Dimond 27. A measurement from the chain gang showed Service maintained possession by half the length of a football.
A few plays later, on another fourth-down play, Toomer fired a 24-yard touchdown pass to Allen Trevon to put the Cougars up 27-21.
"We got focused," Service coach Kevin Kern said. "The guys were determined, I mean Levi Hansen decided we were not going down."
The opportunity to return to the running game may not have materialized for Service if it weren't for a couple of back-breaking holding calls against Dimond. On nearly identical running plays to the left side, one in the second quarter and one in the third, Dimond's Jordan Tufaga ran more than 60 yards for what looked like touchdowns.
But both highlight-reel plays were erased by holding penalties, the second coming with 9:14 to play in the third quarter as an exhausted Tufaga fell to his knees behind the end zone.
"When kids run 65 yards and score touchdowns and all of a sudden it's not on the scoreboard, it's maddening," said Dimond coach Chris Borst.
Tufaga's big runs went exactly the way the Lynx had practiced all week, Borst said, as did a couple of fantastic interceptions by Isaiah Pili. Twice, the nimble offensive lineman positioned his big body directly in Toomer's intended passing lane and was there to snag a hard, quick pass over the middle.
"I thought we played a heck of a football game, and the results didn't show it," Borst said.
Aided by a Dimond fumble, things took off for Service in the final six minutes, with Toomer's two rushing scores completing a run of four unanswered touchdowns that put the Cougars up 41-21.
Dimond provide one last highlight when quarterback Jeremiah Maga connected with Marquez Buster for a 60-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 41-27 with 2:15 to play. Service was quick to answer, putting an exclamation point on the win with a 60-yard touchdown run by Hansen.
Saturday's championship game between West and Service will be a rematch of the 2010 title game, which West won 6-0 to claim the school's first state title. Service, which this season lost 52-16 to West in Week 7, will be seeking its seventh championship.
"I think it'll be a different game than last time," Kern said. "I think it'll be one of those games, that whoever has the ball last is gonna win."
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
Service -- Aliju 18 pass from Toomer (Van Allen kick), :05
Dimond -- Tufaga 28 run (Sedor kick), 9:11
Dimond -- Parker 31 pass from Maga (Sedor kick), 6:59
Service -- Tuiofu 7 pass from Toomer (Van Allen kick), 2:43
Dimond -- Buster 3 pass from Maga (Sedor kick), 11:55
Service -- Hansen 37 run (kick block), 10:27
Service -- Trevon 24 pass from Toomer (Van Allen kick), 7:13
Service -- Toomer 3 run (Van Allen kick), 5:12
Service -- Toomer 8 run (Van Allen kick), 2:44
Dimond -- Buster 60 pass from Maga (run fail), 2:15
Service -- Hansen 60 run (kick fail), 1:39
Rushing -- Dimond: Tufaga 10-47; Coleman 5-33; Vasai 4-11; Bratcher 1-1; Brunell 1-0; Maga 7-(-40). Service: Hansen 19-161; Toomer 10-41; Jones 14-33; Aliju 1-0; Sriseneha 1-(-3).
Passing -- Dimond: Maga 7-21-1--169. Service: Toomer 17-38-3--227.
Receiving -- Dimond: Buster 3-105; Parker 2-38; Coleman 1-16; Hendrickson 1-10. Service: Aliju 5-63; Jones 5-58; Fromm 3-24; Srisenaha 2-51; Trevon 1-24; Tuiofu 1-7;