POCATELLO – Led by Wyatt Wray’s four touchdown passes, Snake River knocked off South Fremont for the second time this season on Thursday, advancing to the next round of the Class 3A state football playoffs with a 34-23 victory at Idaho State’s Holt Arena.
“I hate playing someone twice in the same season, especially after winning the first one because you never know if the kids will get up for the game the way that they should or not,” Snake River coach Jeff Dalley said. “South Fremont is a great team and two years ago we were faced with the same situation and we got our butts beat. But I was happy with the way that the kids came out, made the plays and were prepared for tonight’s game.”
Utilizing a quick passing game in the flats, South Fremont marched down field for the opening score late in the first quarter.
Snake River responded with a passing game of its own as the Panthers answered the Cougars with a 36-yard pitch-and-catch from Wray to a streaking Bret Parkinson. South Fremont blocked the Cooper Peterson point-after attempt, however, and at the end of the first quarter the score stood at 7-6 Cougars.
“I think that we came out in the first quarter with a little bit of the jitters,” Dalley said. “Wyatt did a great job of settling down. I was proud of the way that he shook off a little bit of a slow start and made some big plays for us.”
Wray had his share of big plays. He produced another one of those on the next offensive possession as he connected with a wide-open Andres Garza down the far side line for a 48-yard touchdown strike. The two-point conversion failed but Snake River had a lead that it never relinquished.
“Defensively we played pretty good,” Dalley said. “We got a little bit gassed in the fourth quarter and we had a couple of injuries that slowed us down a bit but overall I was happy with the defensive play.”
With the lead that strong defensive play shut out the Cougars for the better part of the next two-and-a-half quarters.
South Fremont tallied a pair of late fourth quarter touchdowns, but it was far too little and much too late as Snake River had built a commanding 34-7 lead before then.
In addition to the four touchdown passes, Wray also racked up 197 yards through the air as the Cougars loaded the box in an effort to slow down Snake River’s potent running game.
“They sent a lot of guys down into the box and Wyatt did a good job of hitting the plays in the passing game when they presented themselves,” Dalley said.
Despite running against an 8-man front for most of the evening, Emmett Smith still turned in a fine evening toting the rock for the Panthers. Smith ended the night with 50 yards on 14 carries which included a 4-yard touchdown plunge late in the first half.
Smith also added a 48-yard touchdown reception when he took a screen pass down the north sideline, much to the delight of the large Snake River crowd.
“It was a good turnout by our fans which really helps us when we are playing on the road like this,” Dalley said.
Snake River will continue its road march through the playoffs when it travels next week to play Salmon at a site and date to be determined.
Snake River 6 13 8 7 – 34
South Fremont 7 0 0 16 – 23
3:39 SF 15 yd reception Austin Fearn kick good 0-7
0:34 SR 36 yd reception Bret Parkinson kick block 6-7
8:19 SR 48 yd reception Andres Garza 2pt fail 12-7
3:13 SR 4 yd run Emmett Smith kick Peterson 19-7
1:46 SR 48 yd reception Emmett Smith 2pt run Smith 27-7
10:38 SR 8yd reception Bret Parkinson kick Peterson 34-7
4:11 SF 1yd run Rayce Speth 2pt run Speth 34-15
2:05 SF 15yd run Spencer Goulding 2pt run Speth 34-23
Snake River: passing – Wyatt Wray 7-17 197 4TD INT; rushing – Emmett Smith 14-49 TD, Adrian Castaneda 2-3, Chad VanOrden 8-20, Brad Coombs 1-1, Wyatt Wray 2-9; receiving – Bret Parkinson 3-75 2TD, Emmett Smith 3-74 TD, Andres Garza 1-48 TD