The Emmett offense has become somewhat of a juggernaut over the last few weeks, rolling up over 40 points per game and staying among the leaders in the Southern Idaho Conference. Last Friday night, however, it was the Emmett defense that put the sting on visiting Middleton.
After spotting the Vikings a couple of scores to start the game, Huskies swarmed the Middleton backfield late in the first quarter to record a safety. The tide was turned and before the final gun had sounded Emmett had recorded a convincing 50-27 win.
The victory keeps the Huskies in a four-way tie at the top of the 4A SIC with two games remaining in the regular season. A win at Columbia this week or next week at Vallivue would secure one of four automatic seeds into the 4A State Championship playoffs. A sweep could give Emmett a host role in the opening round and possibly even the SIC Regular season championship.
Perhaps the Huskies were a little distracted from its Senior Night honoring 26 seniors, but they looked a little flat in the opening minutes as Middleton’s vaunted passing attack quickly found the endzone to jump up 14-0. An Emmett drive stalled out deep in Viking territory but the possession exchange pinned the visitors to their goal line. Twice it appeared the Huskies had completed the safety and the second time the officials agreed. Emmett had melted the ice and only got hotter as the evening progressed.
After the Middleton free kick Emmett drove 65 yards in 11 plays to score on a three-yard Westyn Smith run. The Viking passing attack responded with a drive of its own to go up 21-9 but a Caden Young quarterback keeper from the two pulled Emmett within a single possession, 21-16 at halftime.
Emmett took advantage of a short field position off a muffed punt attempt in the third quarter to grab the lead on a 29 yard pass hookup between Young and Caseyn Pearson. It would be the first of four consecutive scoring drives by Emmett in the second half.
Young made it 30-21 with a 35-yard scramble off a muffed snap on the first play of the fourth quarter. Middleton refused to surrender, countering with a short dive to pull within three after a missed extra point.
Another Smith score, this time four yards out, culminated another 80-yard drive by Emmett and a 37-27 advantage.
Once again two scores behind Middleton had to commit fully to its passing game and the Huskies, who had shown some vulnerability in the secondary, was ready to answer the challenge. Wide-receiver turned safety Pearson picked off a Viking pass headed into the endzone and returned it 82 yards to set Emmett up at the Middleton 13. The Huskies worked the clock and pushed the lead to 44-27 on a third Smith touchdown with just over a minute left.
Middleton desperately tried rallying with long downfield passes only to have Young, playing some corner against the tall Viking receivers, stepped in front of a pass at the Emmett ten and raced untouched 90 yards to seal the win.
Young ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the quarterback before getting his fourth score from the defensive side.
Smith ran for 220 yards on 36 carries as the Huskies ran right at the Vikings all night long. The senior tailback now has 1,069 yards rushing in seven games on the season. He is averaging just over 200 yards of all-purpose yardage per game.
Middleton is not eliminated from the playoff hunt with the loss but will need some help. Four teams from the SIC get automatic bids, but four additional teams will be selected to the expanded 16-team playoff field that begins the last weekend of October.
Also still mathematically alive in the playoff race is Columbia High, the Huskies opponent on Friday. The Wildcats are currently tied with Middleton at 2-3 in league play for the fifth spot. An Emmett win in Nampa on Friday would clinch one of the top four spots for the Huskies but they have a bigger goal in view now.
Tied at 4-1 in league play with Bishop Kelly, Nampa and Vallivue, the Huskies will need to take care of their own business this week and see what happens in the other key match-ups. Vallivue and Bishop Kelly meet in Boise and Nampa travels to Middleton. Depending on those two games, next Friday’s Emmett trip to Vallivue could be for the undisputed conference title and a home game to open the playoffs.