POCATELLO — Against Snake River in Saturday’s 3A state championship, there were special plays on special teams but nothing special — or different — from Fruitland.
The Grizzlies used their double wing-T offense to grind out a 28-12 win over Snake River in Saturday’s 3A state championship game at Holt Arena.
It is Fruitland’s third 3A championship since 2010 and first back-to-back title in 13 appearances in the championship game. Fruitland ends its season a perfect 12-0.
“We’ve been here so many times undefeated and not win,” Fruitland coach Ryan Tracy said. “Our guys just wanted to finish the deal. They wanted to be the group to finish (undefeated).”
But regardless of the hype surrounding Fruitland’s methodical offense, the Panthers struck first when sophomore running back Treyton Young found Carson Dance for a 20-yard pass on a 4th and 2.
Young — who finished 2017 with 1,200 yards rushing in just seven games — tallied 62 yards Saturday on 13 carries. Dance grabbed three passes for 45 yards and the Panthers’ scores.
Fruitland answered with a 3-yard run from quarterback Cole Eiguren four minutes later. It then stole momentum with a 40-yard punt return that resulted from Snake River botching its longsnap to try to punt it away late — only for it to end up in the hands of Tyler Gulick.
“That one muffed punt—and we take a lot of pride in our punting —and we somehow drop that snap and that took the wind out of our sails,” Snake River coach Jeb Harrison said.
Snake River tightened up the score when Coby Young found Dance on a 44-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter.
But Fruitland’s offense — death by a thousand-cuts — sustained a 5:30-long drive to start the quarter and put the game away on a Jordan Eggers’ 2-yard run.
The Grizzlies had five different rushers for 199 yards.
“They were big and physical and they were able to kinda impose their will on us down in the second half,” Harrison said. “And our kids just got a little worn out.”
In tears, Snake River’s players hugged and huddled for one last time.
After starting 0-3, the Panthers made some changes to advance to their first state title game since 2014. Harrison said the Panthers would have to play “a perfect game” to beat Fruitland Saturday.
They simply didn’t.
“We played a hell of a season,” linebacker James Clegg said to his teammates afterwards. “I love every one of you.”
“Next year we got this,” right tackle Hunter Cook added.
FRUITLAND 28, SNAKE RIVER 12
Fruitland 7 7 7 7 — 28
Snake River 6 0 6 0 — 12
Snake River — Treyton Young 20-yard pass to Carson Dance (2-point conversion failed) 4:15
Fruitland — Cole Eiguren 3-yard run (PAT good) :04
F — Tyler Gulick 40-yard punt return (PAT good) 9:56
F — Eiguren 2-yard run (PAT good) 4:50
SR — Coby Young 44-yard pass to Dance (2-point conversion) 3:27
F — Jordan Eggers 2-yard run (PAT good) 6:29
RECEIVING — Fruitland: Jordan Eggers 2-30, Canaan Bourcy 2-11, Alex Becerril 1-44. Snake River: Clancy Thomas 1-19, Carson Dance 3-65-2.
PASSING — Fruitland: Cole Eiguren 6-9-85. Snake River: Coby Young 4-10-71-1-1, Treyton Young 1-20-1.
RUSHING — Fruitland: Jordan Eggers 19-121-1, Cole Eiguren 9-(-4)-2, Noah Hattrup 7-31, Alex Becerril 7-22, Ethan Villalobos 9-29. Snake River: Treyton Young 13-62, Coby Young 3-(-5), Kade Mortensen 4-0, Carson Dance 1-2, Gunner Ramsdell 1-3.