THOMAS — Many people expected Friday night's match-up between the undefeated Snake River and Sugar-Salem football teams to be an offensive shootout.
But instead of an offensive show, those in attendance got a defensive battle won by the Panthers 7-6 on homecoming night at Snake River High School.
"I think there were two great defenses on the field tonight and they showed it," Snake River head coach Jeff Dalley said. "When you have good defenses like that it is going to tough to move the ball. And when you have so many chances you have to capitalize on those chances."
Missed opportunities was the theme of the night for both schools as turnovers, penalties and the inability to make the play hurt both teams.
Sugar got on the board first when Jordan Godby broke through the Snake River defense for a 57-yard touchdown run. The ensuing two-point conversion attempt was bottle dup by the defense, but the Diggers led 6-0.
It took the Panthers a little over 1:30 to answer the Diggers touchdown.
Quarterback Kade Keller and the Panthers marched right down the field for a drive that capped by a Keller to David Serna 24-yard touchdown pass. After the PAT was made the Panthers led 7-6.
Unfortunately to the fans enjoying the homecoming festivities that was all the points they saw.
The two teams combined for seven turnovers including two interceptions in the end zone thrown by Keller that killed two good scoring opportunities for the Panthers.
"I don't take anything away from the way Kade played tonight," Dalley said. "He is only in his third game as a starting quarterback and he is getting better each week and each week we find the positives from each game and move forward."
The first of Keller three interceptions came in the second quarter.
As he was scrambling to find an open receiver, he rolled to his left and launched a pass towards Serna in the end zone. Unfortunately, the Diggers Jared Purser was there for the interception.
Purser added another interception in the second half.
Keller second pick in the end zone came late in the third quarter when he again was looking for Serna, but he over shot his target and found the Diggers Al Hansen instead.
While turnovers did kill Snake River drives, the Panthers defense did their part to keep the Diggers out of the end zone.
In the final two minutes of the game, Sugar-Salem was driving towards the end zone and actually could have had the ball inside the Panthers 20 yard line, but two huge penalties pushed the Diggers back to the Snake 34.
On a fourth and 14 from the Snake 34, Sugar quarterback Teancum Gibson threw his sixth pass of the game, but it was incomplete.
Gibson was 1-of-6 for 18 yards and two interceptions.
Snake kneeled three times and walked away with a win.
"I was happy with the way the kids played offensively and defensively, it was a battle," Dalley said. "Never at any time did I think that one point was going to be enough for us to win."
Keller finished the night 10-of-25 for 148 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He also had 47 yards on the ground.
Serna had four catches for 72 yards and the touchdown.
Snake River (3-0) is off next week, they travel to Aberdeen Sept. 27.
Snake River 7, Sugar-Salem 6
Sugar - Salem 6 0 0 0 — 6
Snake River 7 0 0 0 — 7
SS — Jordan Godby 57 run (run failed)
SR — David Serna 24 pass from Kade Keller (Oliver Rasmussen kick)
RUSHING — Sugar-Salem: Jordan Godby 10-121-1, Jared Purser 8-46, Teancum Gibson 5-15, Derek Ostermiller 1-5. Snake River: David Serna 4-6, Brad Coombs 6-12, Kade Keller 13-47, Collin Bingham 11-21.
RECEIVING — Sugar-Salem: Jordan Godby 1-18. Snake River — Cole Hrabik 2-22, Payden Dalley 1-10, David Serna 4-72-1, Collin Bingham 1-0, Kade Harral 2-44.
PASSING — Sugar-Salem: Teancum Gibson1-6-18-0-2. Snake River: Kade Keller 10-25-148-1-3.