POCATELLO – Snake River’s Caleb Phillips and Pablo Vega recorded back-to-back sacks to preserve the Panthers’ 28-24 win against Sugar-Salem on Saturday in the first round of the 3A high school football playoffs.
Trailing by four, Sugar-Salem threatened a comeback facing a 3rd-and-12 at the Snake River 45 with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter at Holt Arena. Phillips dropped Sugar-Salem quarterback Teancum Gibson on third down for a 5-yard loss. And after Sugar-Salem burned its final timeout, Vega, a portly defensive lineman, tracked down a scrambling Gibson from behind, dove and knicked his heel for the fourth-down sack.
“Our defense had to come up big there to get a stop,” Snake River coach Jeff Dalley said. “We hadn’t stopped them all night. They drove the ball on us and scored. But the defense bowed their necks and came up with a stop.”
The stop allows Snake River (7-3) to advance to face Shelley (9-0) at 8 p.m. Friday at Holt Arena in the state quarterfinals.
Snake River running back Nate Martin iced the game after the turnover on downs with three first-down runs to run out the clock. Those three runs allowed Martin to finish the game with 141 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Senior fullback Chase Barber led Sugar-Salem with 118 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. He scored on a pair of 3-yard runs in the third quarter and the final one pulled the Diggers within four points.
But two-point conversions haunted Sugar-Salem. It jumped offsides twice when Snake River lined up to kick the extra point. With the shortened field, Snake River opted to go for two and converted both times.
Sugar-Salem also jumped offsides on a two-point try of its own, backing it up into a Jason Hawkes kick. Snake River blocked the kick.
SNAKE RIVER 28, SUGAR-SALEM 24
Sugar-Salem 6 6 12 0 - 24
Snake River 8 14 6 0 - 28
SS – Teancum Gibson 10 run (pass failed), 7:01
SR – Adrian Castaneda 23 run (Nate Martin run), 6:05
SR – Bret Parkinson 7 pass from Wyatt Wray (Gio Pimentel kick blocked), 9:46
SS – Devon Smith 34 pass from Gibson (Derek Ostermiller run failed), 3:01
SR – Martin 4 run (Martin run), 0:38
SS – Chase Barber 3 run (Jason Hawkes kick blocked), 7:52
SR - Brad Coombs 3 run (Piomental kick failed), 4:32
SS – Barber 3 run (Gibson run failed), 1:24
First downs 14 18
Total yards 272 303
Rushes-yards 43-176 33-200
Passing yards 96 103
Cmp-Att-Int 6-9-0 6-8-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-1
Turnovers 0 2
Penalties 7-37 2-20
Time of possession 29:40 18:20
RUSHING – Sugar-Salem: Chase Barber 16-118, Teancum Gibson 24-54, Jordan Godby 2-2, Jason Ostermiller 1-2. Snake River: Nate Martin 20-141, Adrian Castaneda 4-27, Brad Coombs 4-8, Wyatt Wray 4-25, Gio Pimentel 1-(-1).
PASSING – Sugar-Salem: Gibson 6-9-0 96. Snake River: Wray 6-8-0 103.
RECEIVING – Sugar-Salem: Ostermiller 1-(-8), Keaton Small 1-36, Barber 1-16, Devon Smith 2-50, Paycen Rasmussen 1-2. Snake River: Bret Parkinson 4-59, Castaneda 1-25, Martin 1-19.