POCATELLO – The Blackfoot Broncos faced a desperate, gambling, unconventional Middleton team on Friday night in the class 4A State Football Championship game and in the end; the Broncos proved that they were indeed the number one team in the state as they captured their third state title in the last five years with a 42-24 victory.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough game,” Blackfoot head coach Stan Buck said. “That was a good, good game and I’m just real happy for the kids that they were able to get it done. Now we can relax, rest and enjoy the winter sports season.”
From the opening drive of the game, Blackfoot made it look as if they were going to blow the doors off the Holt Arena hinges as they took the opening kick off, marched the ball down the field on five plays, to take a 7-0 lead courtesy of a 3-yard Ryan Murdoch touchdown plunge.
Middleton responded on the ensuing drive by going for a fourth and four on their own 22-yard line. A 17-yard completion gave the Vikings the first down on one of the more daring play calls seen this season.
“We made a couple of mistakes in their passing game but we still had plenty of opportunities on the defensive side of the ball to make a play,” Coach Buck said. “We just needed to suck it up and get a stop. It was frustrating though.”
Middleton eventually took the lead on that drive as they scored a touchdown and then followed it up with a 2-point conversion for the 8-7 lead.
Blackfoot stalled out on their next offensive possession, the only time of the night in which the offense failed to score.
Middleton then extended the lead to 15-7 early in the second quarter before Blackfoot responded with a scoring drive of their own at the 5:53 mark. Pilster was the catalyst as he split through the Viking defense for a 32-yard touchdown run but the two point conversion failed making the score 15-13 Vikings.
Middleton was able to get a 29-yard field goal at the buzzer and heading into the locker room, Blackfoot trailed 18-13.
“We made some corrections at the half,” Coach Buck said. “I challenged the defense to dominate the line of scrimmage in the second half or they would have to watch Middleton leave here with the trophy. I was really proud of the defense and how they responded in the second half.”
Wyatt Hayes turned in the first stellar defensive play of the second half when he sacked the Middleton quarterback on the Vikings opening drive of the second half, forcing the rare punt by the Vikings.
On the Blackfoot offensive series, Blackfoot regained the lead for good when Carlton Moore split the middle of the Viking defense for an 18-yard touchdown. Trae Pilster then found Colby Pearson in the endzone for the 2-point conversion and the 21-18 lead.
“Middleton was really playing the passing game which left the run open,” Pilster said. “Our offensive line gave us some huge holes and after losing last year I don’t think that any of us would have accepted a loss this year.”
On the drive, Pilster made a pair of key plays to keep it alive. The first a pretty 22-yard pass to James Korth on a second and 21 and the second, a huge 19-yard pass to Cody Averett with a defensive lineman draped all over his back.
“I wasn’t going to go down on that play and as soon as I got my right arm free I saw Cody wide open and I just got it to him,” Pilster said.
On the next Middleton drive, the gambling Vikings got bit by the Blackfoot defense when they went for another fourth down, this time from their own 31-yard line. The Blackfoot defense was equal to the challenge giving the ball back to the offense deep in Middleton territory.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Murdoch scored the second of his three touchdown night and the massive Blackfoot crowd celebrated the 28-18 lead.
“We just played more physical in the second half,” Pilster said. “It just means everything, especially to all of us seniors to get this win.”
Middleton made one last gasp at the Broncos when they scored and then missed the 2-point conversion with 6:53 remaining in the game. True to form, they gambled with an onside kick that was recovered by Cody Evans on the Blackfoot 36-yard line.
Four minutes later, Murdoch powered his way across the goal line from 3-yards out making the score 35-24.
Blackfoot added another Carlton Moore score with :14 remaining for the final tally.
“We’re happy with what our program is doing right now,” Coach Buck said. “We can spread you out or go into a traditional power formation. We don’t throw the ball a lot but you better respect it because we’ll throw on you if you don’t. We had a lot of injuries this year but we had some good kids step up and come through for us like Murdoch. He wasn’t even a starter earlier in the year but when we lost a couple of really good backs, he stepped up and he will be a really good player for us next year.”
BLACKFOOT 42, MIDDLETON 24 Middleton 8 10 0 6 - 24 Blackfoot 7 6 8 21 - 42 First quarter BF – Ryan Murdoch 3 run (Luis Oseguera kick), 8:16 M – Nathan Squibb 50 pass from Brady Winfield (Victor Dias run), 3:33 Second quarter M – Dias 1 run (Tyan Tullock kick), 8:34 BF – Trae Pilster 32 run (Pilster run failed), 5:46 M – Tyan Tullock 29 field goal, 0:00 Third quarter BF – Carlton Moore 13 run (Trae Pilster to Colby Pearson pass), 5:00 Fourth quarter BF – Murdoch 1 run (Oseguera kick), 11:57 M – Dias 1 run (Max Foote run failed), 6:53 BF – Murdoch 3 run (Oseguera kick), 2:33 BF – Moore 20 run (Oseguera kick), 0:14