Russets Sting Bees Late
By Ron James
For the Morning News
SHELLEY — For those in the stands at Shelley High School on Friday night to see the Russets take on the visiting Bees of Bonneville, you were treated to one of the best games of the year as Shelley scored late to complete a comeback from 12 points down and nip Bonneville 41 – 40.
Junior quarterback Chad Leckington, in his second game back from a thumb injury that kept him sidelined for most of the season, converted a key fourth-and-long with an 11-yard pass to junior wide receiver McKay Cannon to keep the drive alive. Three plays later, senior running back Tate Foster scored his third and biggest touchdown of the night from four yards out to give the Russets the lead with 7.9 seconds remaining in the game. Junior defensive lineman Garrett Smith knocked down a Bonneville pass on the last play of the game to seal the victory.
The game started slow with Shelley and Bonneville trading three-and-outs on their first possessions. On its next possession, Shelley marched 67 yards down the field where Foster scored his first touchdown of the night with a 37-yard run to give the Russets a 7 – 0 lead midway through the first.
On the next possession by the Bees, Foster picked of an errant Bonneville throw, giving the Russets a short field to work with at the Bees 41. The Russets took advantage and scored their second of the night on a 29-yard pass from Leckington to sophomore wide receiver Dalton Nelson for a 14 –0 lead late in the first quarter. But Bonneville wasn’t going to go quietly, and on the second play of the next possession, ran a reverse for 67 yards and a touchdown to make it 14 – 6.
As Shelley attempted to answer with a long drive of its own, a tipped Leckington pass was intercepted by the Bees, giving them good field position at their own 41 early in the second quarter. Bonneville didn’t waste the opportunity and marched down the field to close within 14 – 12. A three-and-out by the Russets, followed by a 38- yard Bee touchdown run on a fourth-and-5 play gave Bonneville their first lead of the game at 18-14. The Russets answered with a long drive capped by another Leckington touchdown throw to Nelson, giving Shelley a 22 – 18 lead with less than a two minutes to go in the half. But, two plays later and the Bees were back on top with a 71-yard pass that went the distance for a 26 – 22 lead at the half.
Bonneville took the opening drive of the second half 80 yards down the field for a touchdown and a 33 – 22 lead. Once again, Shelley answered as Leckington was perfect on the drive, going 5-for-5 for 43 yards and another touchdown pass to Nelson, his third of the night. The third quarter ended with Bonneville, leading 33 – 28, on the Shelley 17 and threating to score again.
The Bees did score again early in the fourth quarter to go up 40 – 28, leaving Shelley with a lot of work to do and time starting to become a factor. Leckington went back to work, methodically moving the ball down to the Bonneville one-yard-line, where Foster punched it in for his second score of the night, closing the gap to 40 – 35 with just over six minutes left in the game. But with time winding down, the Russets needed a stop from their defense if they were going to get the ball back with enough time left to score. With the game riding on their shoulders, the defense came up big, stopping the Bees and forcing a punt on the biggest series of their season. With almost four minutes left and 69 yards to go, Leckington went back to work and did what he had been doing all night, guiding his team down the field and making the big plays when they needed them most. As Foster sprinted around the outside to the corner of the end zone, the crowd erupted and the players went wild. Shelley had managed to pull off the improbable – beating Hillcrest and Bonneville in successive weeks, with a quarterback returning from injury, to advance to the state playoffs next week.
The Russets will be at Pocatello to open their chase for a Class 4A championship.