THOMAS — With a berth in next week's 3A state semifinal on the line two Bingham County rivals took to the field of Snake River High School Saturday.
Snake River faced the tough task of trying to stop Shelley's high powered offensive attack, while trying to move the ball and score points on one of the state's top defenses.
Shelley just wanted to get back into the flow of a game after their starters played just one quarter last week in a shutout win over American Falls.
Snake River moved the ball down the field on the opening possession of the game but came up inches short on a fourth and four play inside the Shelley 40.
Nine plays later Shelley's Randy Bauer scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns on the afternoon as Shelley earned a 26-0 win and a berth in the state semifinals.
"Our defense has been the unsung heroes for us most of the year," Shelley head coach Travis Hobson said. "We have been holding teams all year, 29 was the most points we have given up all year and that says a lot for our defensive kids and how hard their playing."
It also helps to have Kaden Schmitt at quarterback and a stable of running backed to hand the ball off to.
The Panthers were able to move the ball against the Shelley defense, especially on the ground, but it was the ineffectiveness of the passing game that proved to be hard for the Panthers to overcome.
"We knew ofter that first possession we were going to have to throw the ball on first and second down to slow their defense down," Snake River head coach Jeff Dalley said. "Shelley is very good at what they do and made things very tough for us."
The two headed quarterback attack of Kade Keller and Sean Miller combined to go 8-for-21 passing for 78 yards and an interception. Miller played most of the second half under center after Keller left the game with an injury.
Unable to move the ball well through the air, Snake River needed the running game to get going, but the tough and physical Russet defense made that difficult for the Panthers as well.
"I was happy with how physical we were today," Hobson said. "Our defensive line was outstanding, our linebackers played great and our secondary hit the hardest I have seen all season."
Shelley got on the board first last in the first quarter when they took the failed conversion on fourth down by Snake River and marched nine plays in a little over three minutes to watch Bauer cap off the drive with a five yard touchdown run.
Shelley's second touchdown was the byproduct of a fake punt pass completion from Kaden Schmitt to Cameron Waite.
On the play Schmitt found Waite who scampered 45 years down to the 25 yard line of Snake River.
Bauer capped of the drive with a 10 yard touchdown run to give Shelley a 14-0 lead.
Six minutes later Shelley was driving towards the end zone again, but on a pass towards the corner of the end zone Snake River's David Serna picked off the Schmitt pass on the goal line.
The drive did not end in any points for the Panthers as Sean Miller threw an interception a few plays later.
Schmitt turned the ball over again on the Russets first possession not the second half when his to route pass was intercepted by the Panthers Luke Albertson.
But just like the first turnover forced by the Panthers, the drive ended in no points.
Jason Hathaway capped off the ensuing Shelley possession with a 5 yard touchdown run to give the Russets a 20- lead.
Schmitt did not have his best game under center for the Russets, but he did make one big mark on the game in the final seconds of the third quarter when he found Josh Peterson with a 55 yard touchdown pass to give the Russets a 26-0 win.
Schmitt did finish the game with 280 yards passing on 12 completions and the two uncharacteristic interceptions.
The victory for Shelley sets up a rematch of last seasons semifinals as the Russets will take on Gooding next week.
"Gooding is as physical a team that we will see all year," Hobson. "They are big upfront and aggressive, I think we can take advantage of that aggressiveness."
The date of next week's games in to be determined, but the game will be played in Holt Arena.
Snake River ends the season with a 7-3 record.
"It was a good season, I am very proud of what this team did this season," Dalley said. "No one expected us to end up where we did with just eight seniors on the field."
Shelley 26, Snake River 0
Shelley 7 7 12 0 — 26
Snake River 0 0 0 0 — 0
S — Randy Bauer 7 run (Tyler Fredrickson kick)
S — Bauer 10 run (Fredrickson kick)
S — Jason Hathaway 5 run (run failed)
S — Josh Peterson 55 pass from Kaden Schmitt (run failed)
Rushing — Shelley: Kaden Schmitt 10-72, Randy Bauer 11-95-2, Jason Hathaway 7-28-1, Jacob Sutherin 4-27, Cameron Waute 1- (-5), Bryon Leckington 1- (-2). Snake River: Kade Keller 9-16, Brad Coombs 5-9, Sean Miller 8-56, Wyatt Vogler 4 -(-1), David Serna 2-9, Collin Bingham 3-13.
Receiving — Shelley: Tyler Bean 2-28, Randy Bauer 2-21, Josh Peterson 2-63-1, Cameron Waite 4-82, Taylor Lund 2-92, Dalton Nelson 1- (-3). Snake River: Collin Bingham 3-29, Kade Harral 1-14, David Serna 2-6, Tyler Coombs 1-7, Wyatt Vogler 1-3.
Passing — Shelley: Kaden Schmitt 12-21-280-1-2, Bryon Leckington 0-1-0-0-0. Snake River: Kade Keller 1-5-25-0-0, Sean Miller 7-16-53-0-1.