POCATELLO - The Snake River Panthers rode the strength of their defense as they downed the visiting Kimberly Bulldogs in the semi finals of the A3 state tournament by a score of 26-0.
So dominating was the defense that they held Kimberly to negative yardage in the first half and without a first down until 10:12 of the third quarter.
“I have to give all the credit for the great defense tonight to the kids and the defensive coaches,” said Coach Jeff Dalley. “Coaches Rich Dunn, Jeff Toulouse and Brian McInelly came up with a great game plan and the kids executed it perfectly.”
The Panthers scored on five of their first six possessions, quickly distancing themselves from the Bulldogs with a twenty point first half outburst.
“Our quarterback really set the tone for the offense tonight,” said Coach Dalley. “C.J. Toulouse ran the offense as good as you can and also was tough on defense tonight.”
Toulouse accounted for 192 of the Panthers 354 yards total offense and scored one of the three Snake River touchdowns. Toulouse also contributed on defense with a pair of interceptions, the second of which stopped the best drive of the night by Kimberly.
“I just followed the reads that the coaches gave us during the week of preparation,” said senior C.J. Toulouse. “I was in good position to pick the passes off and it helped when Kimberly was in a desperate situation in the second half.”
After a three and out on their first possession, the Panthers took the ball on their own 42 yard line courtesy of Toulouse’s first pick on the night.
Fifty eight yards later, Derek Williams took the ball in from 36 yards out to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead with only 1:58 left in the first quarter.
The defense got the ball back quickly thanks to a fumble by Kimberly and the second scoring drive of the night resulted in a 28 yard field goal by kicker Cooper Peterson.
Following another defensive stand by the Panthers, the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs and Snake River made quick work of the opportunity, going 72 yards in less than five minutes, with junior running back Emmet Smith bulling over from the one yard line.
“When you have a great one two punch like Smith and Williams, it is a real blessing for our offense,” said Coach Dalley. “We love our inside game with Smith and Williams can score from anywhere on the field with his ability to get in the clear on the outside.”
Smith did most of the hard work, carrying the ball 13 times for 35 yards and a touchdown while Williams tallied 104 yards on only eight carries and also scored a touchdown.
Snake River would score once more in the first half, on a short drive that culminated with a 27 yard field goal by Peterson, giving the Panthers a 20-0 half time lead.
Kimberly came out for the second half, set on turning the game around and promptly recovered an onside kick, but their drive stalled on the three yard line where they turned the ball over on downs.
Snake River then drove the ball the length of the field, with Toulouse taking the ball in from the three yard line and taking over five minutes off the clock. Peterson would miss the extra point, but the Panthers had a 26-0 lead,and Kimberly only threatened once more in the contest.
The Bulldogs longest sustained drive of the night came following Peterson’s kick off, but ate up most of the clock as they drove down to the seven yard line. C.J. Toulouse then stepped in front of a Bulldog pass and returned the ball to midfield where Snake River’s back ups came for mop up duty.
KHS 0 0 0 0 0
SRHS 7 13...6....0....26
1Q 1:48 36 yard run by Derek Williams, Peterson kick good 7-0
2Q..10:30 28 yard field goal, Cooper Peterson 10-0
2Q 3:52 1 yard run by Emmet Smith, Peterson kick good 17-0
2Q 0:12 27 yard field goal, Cooper Peterson 20-0
3Q 2:42 3 yard run, C.J. Toulouse, kick failed 26-0
Snake River passing: C.J. Toulouse, 10-15, 152 yards leading rushers: D. Williams, 8-104 yards, 1 td; C.J. Toulouse, 9-40 yards, 1 td; E. Smith, 13-35 yards, 1 td; leading receivers:
D. Williams, 3-42 yards, M. Hrabik, 2-26 yards, C. Van Orden, 2-52 yards