POCATELLO – Well, that looked easy.
It was as if Snake River’s presence was never absent from the 3A state playoffs, as if it wasn’t stifled by Teton just a few weeks ago, and as if its offense never struggled this year.
Of course, those things did happen, but that’s all in the rearview mirror now that the Panthers are heading to the 3A state semifinals after avenging an October loss to Teton with a 34-14 win Friday at Holt Arena.
“That’s the thing about football, you’re always looking forward,” Snake River coach Jeb Harrison said.
Snake River (8-2) was in control the entire game, scoring on four of its first five drives and not allowing a touchdown until the second half. The offensive success was contrary to when the Panthers were stonewalled in a 12-6 loss in a frigid, snow-filled game at Teton (5-5) on Oct. 4.
“They had a sour taste in their mouths from the last time we played Teton,” Harrison said. “We did not respond well to the conditions and our kids literally froze and froze up mentally and it was a setback, but it set us up for a comeback.”
Snake River running back Treyton Young led a time-chewing, constantly-churning offense that paired a spread look with the Panthers’ patented smash-mouth playing style.
Young scored four rushing touchdowns, while compiling 174 yards on 20 carries Friday.
“When we played them the first time, we didn’t come prepared,” Young said. “We knew no matter what, we’re going to make it happen. We weren’t going to stop tonight.”
Since scoring a season-low point total against Teton in Week 6, Harrison said the offense has become more run-heavy. Since the loss, the Panthers have won their last four games and averaged 35.8 points per game during that stretch, 13 more points than they averaged in their first six games of the season.
“We’ve got one of the better running backs in the state, so we decided we’re going to run the ball to set up the pass,” Harrison said. “(Young) doesn’t outrun everybody, but he makes two or three guys miss each play and he’s hard to tackle.”
Friday marked the fourth time this season the Panthers scored more than 30 points and the third time in their last four games.
In Snake River’s first playoff appearance in two years, the Panthers decided on being exacting instead of explosive.
Snake River received the ball first Friday and bled more than eight minutes off the clock before Young ran through the middle for a 3-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal to put his team ahead 7-0.
After Snake River forced a three-and-out, the Teton defense remained helpless as Snake River chugged down the field before taking a 13-0 lead on Young’s 24-yard run at the start of the second quarter.
Teton didn’t get a first down until more than 14 minutes into the game.
Snake River led 21-0 at halftime after squeezing in a touchdown, sparked by a blocked punt, at the end of the first half.
Teton came out of halftime with its best punch, going on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive punctuated by Dusty Hess’ pass to Carson Reiley on the 2-point conversion to cut its deficit to 21-8 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
But Teton had no answer for Snake River’s run game. On the next drive, Snake River running back Armando Garza popped out of the middle and ran to the end zone for a 30-yard TD on first-and-19 to put Snake River ahead 27-8, and the Panthers coasted from there.
“Our O-line came to play,” Young said. “Our O-line made the plays.”
Snake River plays Sugar-Salem in the 3A state semifinals next Saturday at Holt Arena.
SNAKE RIVER 34, TETON 14
Teton 0 0 8 6 — 14
Snake River 7 14 6 7 — 34
S – Young 3-yard run (PAT), 3:57
S – Young 24 run (PAT fail), 10:48
S – Young 15 run (Run), 0:42
T – Hess 4 run (Pass), 8:03
S – Garza 30 run (PAT fail), 4:45
S – Young 22 run (PAT), 8:11
T – Hess 4 pass to Reiley (Run fail). 4:56
Passing: Snake River – Gilbert 8-14-61. Teton – Hess 10-22-95-1-1, Hatch 1-1-6.
Receiving: Snake River – Poulter 5-39, Young 3-22. Teton – Hatch 3-20, Reiley 2-13, Cooke 2-10, H. Heuseveldt 1-11, Kunz 2-44, Fullmer 1-3.
Rushing: Snake River – Young 20-174, Gilbert 6-9, Coombs 5-39, Dayley 2-7, Garza 5-52, Ranstrom 2-16. Teton – Hess 14-102, Cooke 3-12, H. Heuseveldt 7-23, Kasbaum 2-1.