BLACKFOOT — The Blackfoot Broncos didn’t know what hit them in the first quarter of the 4A state playoffs Friday night.
What a difference another quarter makes, as the Broncos overcame a 14-0 opening-period deficit and rolled to a 42-14 victory over the Minico Spartans to advance to the state semifinals.
In the first quarter, Minico kept Blackfoot completely off balance, with the backfield combination of quarterback Connor Stocking and running back Rylan Chandler throwing different looks at the Broncos that resulted in defensive confusion and big plays both through the air and on the ground.
Stocking put the Spartans up early on a 1-yard quarterback keeper just over two minutes into the game, with Cash Cofer’s kick making it 7-0.
The guessing game in Minico’s backfield continued after that, with Chandler getting a lot of direct snaps. It was that kind of attack that put Minico up 14-0 with 4:47 left in the first quarter, with Stocking gathering in a 6-yard scoring toss from Chandler.
Things changed dramatically after that. A Blackfoot defense that was struggling to get penetration started turning it around, star running back Teegan Thomas — playing with a cast on his arm in his first game since breaking his wrist a few weeks ago — came alive, and the Broncos’ passing game did its job at key moments.
Blackfoot capitalized on a Minico turnover early in the second quarter, with Thomas putting Blackfoot on the board with a 2-yard run. Dominique Sanchez’s kick made it 14-7.
With 5:39 left in the first half, Thomas found space along the right side of the line and used his speed to race to a 41-yard TD run, and suddenly the game was tied at 14-14.
Two big pass plays back-to-back from Broncos quarterback Craig Young to receiver Brayden Wright turned the momentum even further and set the stage for a runaway. The second big pass to Wright covered 31 yards, with Young looking off his receiver to the right and throwing to Wright along the left side for a score, making it 21-14 with 1:38 left in the half.
But that wasn’t the end of the scoring in the first half. Blackfoot scored again with 16 seconds on the clock as Young hit Jayden Wistisen on a 25-yard pass to widen the lead to 28-14.
It seemed a rout was brewing, and Thomas — who finished the game with 149 yards on 21 carries — helped it along by churning out at least several yards a pop on the ground, with a 23-yard run setting up a 1-yard scoring plunge for himself with 5:36 left in the third quarter to make it 35-14.
The scoring ended with 11:10 left in the game when Blackfoot’s Reece Robinson made a gorgeous leaping grab and got a foot down in the left corner just inside the goal line from 30 yards out.
Minico did manage to get down to Blackfoot’s 4-yard line after that, but Jaxson Ball shut down that drive with an interception in the end zone to seal the deal for the Broncos. After that, Blackfoot started sending in subs.
“It’s good to be back, everybody was super-energized for it,” Thomas said after the game. “(Coach Stan) Buck told me to get ready, as soon as you’re back, it’s gonna be back to the normal stuff, no breaks. So I was prepared for that.”
Blackfoot will go on the road to face Nampa in the semifinals. Nampa beat Bishop Kelly 35-28 on Friday.