POCATELLO — Heading into Saturday's 3A state semifinal rematch with Gooding, the Shelley Russets defense had not allowed an opponent to score a single point in the playoffs.
It took the Senators a little more than 20 seconds to snap that streak when running back Josh Finley raced 80 yards back and forth across the field to give his team a 7-6 lead.
The 80-yard score seemed to light a fire under one of the state's top defenses as the Russets held the Senators scoreless until the final two minutes of the game as Shelley punched its ticket to next week's 3A title game with a 25-13 victory in Holt Arena Saturday night.
"They rise to the occasion," Shelley head coach Travis Hobson said of his defense. "I though this was one of the best most physical offenses we have seen all year long and the goaline stand we had down their was proof in the pudding. When is comes down to crunch time they are going to lock it up."
After the touchdown by Gooding to answer the Russets first touchdown of the game 21 seconds earlier some of the defensive players for Shelley were frustrated with the previous events and took it out on the ground of the Shelley sidelines.
With the frustration came a refocused effort and the Gooding offense had a hard time doing much of anything the rest of the night.
But while the Shelley defense was controlling the remainder of the first half, the offense was sputtering trailing by one point.
The normally balanced offense seemed to be a bit out of sync and looking to find holes in what was at least early on a pretty aggressive Gooding defense.
"I do not like to lose and don't even like trailing," Hobson said. "We are going to have to back to the drawing board and get more aggressive offensively, defensively you can not get any more aggressive than that."
Shelley took the lead with 26 seconds remaining in the first half when quarterback Kaden Schmitt found a wide open Taylor Lund with a three-yard touchdown pass, the two-point conversion attempt failed and the Russets went into the locker room leading 12-7.
Lund's touchdown capped a 93 yard drive by Shelley that no doubt sent the team into the locker room with momentum.
Gooding had the ball first in the second half and tried to emulate what the Russets did on the first half on their first possession. Senators quarterback Wyatt Williams carried the ball on six of the Senator first nine second half plays, the problem for Gooding was their offensive line, most of which also played on defense were showing signs of fatigue.
"That was our plan, to use are depth to wear them down," Hobson said. "We have been saying all year long that the amount of kids we have playing in two deep situations I don't think a lot of 3A teams have, not only the amount of players, but the quality of players as well. I do think our depth was a big key to the game."
Shelley scored their only touchdown of the third quarter in the final 40 seconds when Schmitt found Cameron Waite on a screen pass. Waite ran through the Gooding defense for a 34-yard touchdown.
Schmitt threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game in the final quarter when the found Skyler Fielding for a four yard touchdown.
The Russets senior quarterback finished the game 13-of-22 for 260 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Waite added 92 yards receiving on four catches and Randy Bauer added 89 yards on the ground.
Shelley will take on Fruitland for the 3A state title Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Holt Arena.
"Bring it on, it's going to be a lot of fun," Hobson said of the rematch with Fruitland. "I would not want things any other way, I cannot wait to battle those guys again."
Shelley 25, Gooding 13
Gooding 7 0 0 6 — 13
Shelley 6 6 6 7 — 25
S — Josh Peterson 12 pass from Kaden Schmitt (kick failed)
G — Josh Finley 80 run (Justin Childers kick)
S — Taylor Lund 3 pass from Schmitt (pass failed)
S — Cameron Waite 34 pass from Schmitt (pass failed)
S — Skylar Fielding 4 pass from Schmitt (Tyler Fredrickson kick)
G — Torre Sliman 2 pass from Wyatt Williams (pass failed)
Rushing — Gooding: Torin Brunson 13-37, Josh Finley 6-93-1, Wyatt Williams 13-35, Wayde Gazafy 2-3, Kaden Barrus 1-0. Shelley: Randy Bauer 11-89, Kaden Schmitt 17-69, Tyler Bean 1 (-3), Jason Hathaway 2-9, Jacob Sutherin 2-8, Cameron Waite 1 (-2).
Receiving — Gooding: Torrie Sliman 2-5-1, Josh Finley 3-29, Hank Boeger 1-12, Torin Brunson 6-65. Shelley: Cameron Waite 4-92-1, Tyler Bean 2-26-1, Josh Peterson 2-75, Skyler Fielding 2-11-1, Taylor Lund 2-47-1, Randy Bauer 2-9.
Passing — Gooding: Wyatt Williams 12-16-108-1-0. Shelley: Kaden Schmitt 13-22-26-4-1.