For forty-six minutes Friday night it was the tale of two quarterbacks. It was some defensive linemen, however, that wrote the script over the final two minutes as Emmett refused to see its remarkable season end. James Mallory broke through the Blackfoot line to record a safety with only 80 seconds to play as Emmett gained a 28-27 win and a host spot in the Idaho High School Football 4A Semi-finals this week.
“What can you say,” Emmett coach Rich Hargitt said after the nailbiting quarterfinal. “These kids just won’t quit. They seem to find a way to make the big play, even if they just came up short on the play before.”
The see-saw battle between the Huskies and Broncos turned twice within seconds late in the fourth quarter with Blackfoot leading 27-26. Blackfoot’s defense finally got a stop on Emmett quarterback Caden Young – holding the junior inches short of the goal line on fourth down. With possession of the ball, the lead and only 1:24 left to play, the Bronco’s could almost taste the road win.
Standing in their endzone for the ensuring snap, Jace Grimmett’s handoff to tailback Teegan Thomas was greeted rudely behind the line of scrimmage by Mallory for the two-point safety.
“I know that had to be a hard one for Blackfoot to take,” said Hargitt. “It appeared they might be able to run out the clock but they couldn’t get it out of the endzone as our line really rose up.”
Despite the lead, the game still wasn’t over. Blackfoot’s defense took its turn rising up in the final minute, using its remaining timeouts and forcing Emmett to punt the ball back to Grimmett and company at the Huskie 49 with 23 seconds left on the clock. Two quick sideline completions from Grimmett to Carter Layton got the Broncos to the red zone but a 43-yard field goal attempt to win the game sailed short and wide left.
Both teams relied heavily on their quarterbacks to pull off third down magic all night long.
Blackfoot opened scoring with a 12-play opening possession drive complete with three consecutive long third down conversion passes from Grimmett. He then found Layton for a 27-yard score on a fourth and seven play.
The Broncos held Emmett on downs after the Huskies drove deep into Blackfoot territory on their first possession but turned it back over on a fumble at the Bronco 18 two plays later. Young found Caseyn Pearson for a 13-yard score to tie it two plays later.
A Blackfoot three-and-out was capitalized on by Emmett with a Young 41-yard scramble to put Emmett up 14-7 on the first play of the second quarter.
The Bronco quarterback Grimmett wasn’t about to be out shown. A second scoring connection with Layton, this one from 16 yards out evened the score again. After a short Emmett possession, Grimmett drove the Broncos 95 yards in 12 plays, finishing it off with a ten-yard toss to Striker Wood with three minutes remaining before halftime for a 21-14 lead.
But those waning moments of the first half have belonged to Emmett all year long.
Young directed the Huskies response with a 79-yard twelve-play drive, scoring on a 4-yard pass to Curtis Johnson on the last snap of the half. The kick failed so the Broncos held a 21-20 halftime lead.
Both teams worked the clock with ball possession offense in the second half. Emmett’s second possession went 81-yards in 15 plays and concluded with Young’s second scoring scramble, this one from 18 yards out early in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed however and the lead was only 26-21 for the Huskies.
Grimmett directed a responding drive of 65 yards and put Blackfoot back on top with a ten-yard scramble of his own. A two-point conversion attempt for a three point lead failed setting the stage for the final dramatics.
Young drove the Huskies 70 yards on 13-plays and the Broncos had their heels to their endzone. The fourth-down stand after first and goal at the nine appeared to be the end – until it wasn’t.
The dueling quarterbacks had a hand in all of their teams’ touchdowns. Grimmett threw for three and ran for one. Young ran for two and tossed a pair of scores.
Grimmett was 17-25 through the air for 223 yards. Young ran for 179 yards on 25 carries. His tailback Westyn Smith added 151 yards on 30 carries. The workhorse Smith was targeted by the Broncos all night and kept out of the endzone for one of the few games all season but that didn’t bother Smith.
“Sure they focused on me and that helped open up the lanes for Caden,” Smith said. “That’s why they call this a team game.”
The Huskies defense held Blackfoot to 71 yards rushing, well below its season average.
Emmett, now 9-2 on the year, will host Century of Pocatello in the semi-final round at 7 p.m. Friday at Huskie Field.