POCATELLO — Gino Mariani described his team's performance as businesslike, as it was an orderly win for Highland on Friday in another one-sided Black and Blue Bowl.
The Rams gained 409 offensive yards, stifled Pocatello's attack and beat their crosstown rivals 34-0 at Holt Arena. It's Highland's ninth consecutive win over Poky and improves the Rams' record to 49-14 in the series.
Highland (3-1) used a two-headed rushing attack to control the clock and limit Pocatello's offensive chances. The Rams' defense did its part by chasing Indians quarterback Jadyn Downs all over the field and holding Poky to minus-5 yards rushing — the second game in a row a Highland opponent has rushed for negative yardage.
The Rams even excelled on special teams. Kicker Ian Hershey was perfect, making two field goals and four extra points, and good kick coverage pushed Pocatello to its own 10-, 9- and 8-yard lines to begin its final three offensive series.
"It was kind of businesslike for all three phases of the game," Mariani said. "We executed very well on defense, throwing a shutout to a team who gets some big plays. Offensively, I thought we ran the ball well again, and I think our passing game is coming along. We're starting to control the line of scrimmage a little bit against teams we should.
"And our kicking game is good. We've got a field-goal kicker who is pretty accurate and can put points on the board for us when we're not able to get that touchdown. Very pleased overall."
PHOTOS: Black and Blue Bowl
Junior Kaleb Demuzio led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 102 bruising yards and a 26-yard fourth-quarter touchdown that upped Highland's lead to 31-0. Junior quarterback Easton Durham had a fairly light workload, completing 14 of 19 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He spread the wealth to eight pass-catchers, led by Josh Potter's five grabs. Demuzio paced the group with 77 yards — 68 of which came on a first-quarter screen pass that went to the end zone.
And on defense, it was Highland's secondary that got most of the action. Cornerbacks Jason Wright and Seth Nate batted down would-be completions, while safety Jayden Bell made his presence felt early with big hits on Indians ballcarriers. Wright snared a third-quarter interception, while in the front seven, Logan George and Dylan Jester each tacked on a sack.
It was Highland's first shutout since a 33-0 win over Rigby in 2017.
"We knew that they were going to be the strength of our team coming into the season," Mariani said of his defense, "and I think that's held true."
Pocatello (1-3, 0-1 4A District 4-5) came up empty every time it threatened to score.
Poky reached Highland's 31-yard line in the first quarter, but then went in reverse, losing 15 yards over the next three plays.
In the second, Poky punted after advancing to the Rams' 40 and botched a field-goal try after reaching Highland's 15 in the final minute of the first half.
That one hurt double. Poky stopped Highland's fourth-and-inches run to get the ball back with under two minutes remaining and used big plays to march from its own 31 to Highland's 15. A false start turned a 32-yard field-goal try into a 37-yard kick, then a low snap forced Downs, the holder, to scramble. He was tackled for a 13-yard loss and the teams went to their locker rooms.
The Indians never got close after that. They ran 15 offensive plays, committed one turnover and punted three times after halftime. They were on Highland's 49 when Downs threw his third-quarter pick and didn't get past their own 11 in the fourth quarter.
Pocatello finished with a season-low 133 offensive yards.
"That's one of the better defenses around, probably in the state, and that's tough for our guys," Poky coach Dave Spillett said. "We're just undersized. They've got some size and speed against us, and they played great. It was a tough matchup for our O-linemen, which made it tough for us, offensively, to do much of anything."
Downs completed 12 of 23 passes for 138 yards and the pick. Zach Park was Pocatello's leading receiver with five catches and 74 yards. Ryan Payne had 2 yards on two carries — besting Park's 0 yards and Downs' minus-7.
Adam Jones, Hunter Killian, Ben Reed, Casey Bruner, Jarrett Lindley and Brayden Sayer were among Pocatello's defensive standouts. Bruner made the stop on Highland's turnover on downs.
"Our defense was flying around," Spillett said. "Gave up some big plays, obviously, but there's some things we'll take away from tonight, some good things."
Neither head coach hyped up Friday night's rivalry game as the season-definer it once was. There's a third team in the Gate City these days, and the annual Black and Blue matchup no longer even has conference implications.
But the significance isn't lost on the players, even if they're too young to understand the rivalry's history.
"I have friends playing on that team," Wright said. "To beat them is an amazing feeling. I'll have bragging rights all night."
Highland hosts Coeur d'Alene on Friday at Holt Arena.
Pocatello plays Friday at Shelley.
HIGHLAND 34, POCATELLO 0
Highland 7 7 10 10 — 34
Pocatello 0 0 0 0 — 0
H — Demuzio 68 pass from Durham (Hershey kick), 9:47
H — Duffin 38 pass from Durham (Hershey kick), 10:28
H — Hershey 22 field goal, 7:56
H — Jones 4 run (Hershey kick), 4:04
H — Demuzio 26 run (Hershey kick), 7:20
H — Hershey 39 field goal, 1:05
Passing — Highland: Durham 14-19-196-2-0, Whitmer 1-1-9-0-0. Pocatello: Downs 12-23-138-0-1.
Rushing — Highland: Jones 10-28-1, Demuzio 12-102-1, Durham 4-37, Potter 1-11, Parrish 6-31, Barela 1-(-5). Pocatello: Downs 10-(-7), Park 4-0, Payne 2-2.
Receiving — Highland: Demuzio 2-77-1, Huelsman 1-12, Potter 5-28, Mickelsen 1-4, Jones 2-13, Duffin 2-53-1, King 1-9, Barela 1-9. Pocatello: Park 5-75, Ney 3-38, Payne 1-(-1), Christensen 2-12, Williams 1-14.