POCATELLO — After an early spark, the Gooding High School offense couldn’t find its stride as the Senators fell to Snake River in the 3A state football semifinals 34-20.
The game started with three scores in the first six minutes. Snake River’s Treyton Young ran it in from 26 yards out, and Gooding quarter Shane Jennings followed up with a 55-yard pass to Shane Pamplona. On the following drive, Clancy Thomas was left wide open for a 59-yard pass from Coby Young after the Gooding defense bit on the run.
The second quarter nearly went by silent, with turnovers and penalties stifling drives on both sides, but Kade Mortensen took it five yards for the score with 12 seconds remaining in the half to give Snake River a 20-8 lead.
Gooding went through the third quarter defined by incompletions and interception, while Snake River extended its lead with two big plays: a 42-yard touchdown rush by Gunnar Ramsdell and a 46-yard touchdown reception by Carson Dance.
However, the Senators wouldn’t go away, and Cayden Loveland made sure of it. Loveland caught two short-yardage touchdown passes in the last five minutes of play to keep the game within two possessions, and a successful onside kick with 43 seconds left gave Gooding the slightest hope of a comeback.
The Senators had some chances in the end zone, but none converted, and the game ended with an interception in the end zone.
“We had several plays in the end zone,” Gooding head coach Cameron Andersen said. “They’ve just got to be executed, and we’re up at half.”
Defensively, it was no easy task to compete without two star linebackers, senior Sam Funkhouser and junior Cade Morris (also a key offensive player), who were lost to injuries. Senior linebacker Ruger Jennings helped stop some of the bleeding with a strong defensive performance, but it was tough to ask sophomores to step up, Andersen said.
“That’s big because they are those linebackers that help control a lot of the edges where Ruger isn’t,” he said. “But (the sophomores) really played well. They played their hearts out.”
Gooding running back Mike Needham, who ruptured his pectoral muscle two weeks ago, returned to action Saturday for the final game of his high school career.
Andersen said he was proud of his team, and the way it battled to the end was a testament to the fight it had shown all season long.
“This year has been about adversity for us,” he said. “We started the year without four dudes, then the middle of the year we were missing four dudes and we ended the year with two starters out. But not one guy made an excuse. That’s going to take them a lot farther than anything else.”
Snake River 34, Gooding 20
Gooding 8 0 0 12 – 20
Snake River 12 8 14 0 – 34
S – Treyton Young 26-yard run (XP no good) 8:41
G – Shawn Pamplona 55-yard pass from Shane Jennings (2-pt good) 7:23
S – Clancy Thomas 59-yard pass from Coby Young (2-pt no good) 5:59
S – Kade Mortensen 5-yard run (2-pt good) 0:12
S – Gunnar Ramsdell 42-yd run (2-pt good) 5:51
S – Carson Dance 46-yd pass from Young (XP no good) 0:35
G – Cayden Loveland 8-yard pass from Jennings (2-pt no good) 4:31
G – Loveland 6-yard pass from Jennings (XP no good) 0:43