KIMBERLY — Mason Egbert scored on a fumble return, kick return, run and had an interception, as the Bulldogs withstood a 21-0 South Fremont rally to advance to the 3A state semifinals, winning 39-36.
“We knew what was at stake,” said Egbert. “We weren’t ready to be done. It was the last time the seniors would ever be on our home field and we wanted to make it memorable.”
With a South Fremont defense dead-set on shutting down the Bulldogs running game, Zach Wright completed 15 of 32 passes for 232 yards, targeting his speedsters on the outside, as Braden Coronado had 141 yards, and Braden Cummins had two diving catches near the goal-line two set up two touchdowns.
With its defense forcing three first half turnovers and overwhelming South Fremont’s offense with quarterback pressure, and Wright connecting down field, the Bulldogs opened up a 25-7 lead at the half.
But South Fremont’s halftime adjustments — targeting their 6-foot-3 slot receiver — and a few Kimberly mistakes allowed them to gain 28-25 lead in the fourth quarter.
Kimberly responded with the poise of a team hunting a championship trophy.
“After we gave up 21 unanswered points, it is very easy for a team to fold,” said Kimberly head coach Rich Bishop. “That is when these guys stepped up.”
Much like the 21 unanswered points yielded to Wood River earlier in the year, however, the Bulldogs picked themselves up, once again relying on Wright’s scrambling ability, his myriad weapons and strong pass protection to get the go-ahead score on a middle screen to freshman McKade Huft, who finished with 69 total yards on the night.
The Bulldogs stopped the ensuing drive thanks in large part to its pass rush, allowing it to tack on one more score to seal the victory, though South Fremont added a mostly cosmetic score late (Kimberly recovered South Fremont’s onside kick to end the game).
Senior defensive end Tristan Benevidez had four sacks on the night.
“It is all about being more physical,” Benevidez said. “We need to be big dogs. Winning tonight was an unreal feeling. No Kimberly has done this in a long time. We are trying to leave a legacy. We are going for it all the way.”
Kimberly will likely play Shelley in the semifinals next week.
Kimberly 39, South Fremont 36
Kimberly — Phillips 11 run (conversion failed) 6:12
K — Egbert run (conversion failed) 3:12
South Fremont — Yancey 1 run (Stoddard kick) 7:52
K — Egbert 90 kick return (Wright kick) 7:38
K — Egbert fumble return (conversion failed) 4:50
S.F. — Cloverely 20 run (Stoddard kick)
S.F. — Cloverely 3 run (Stoddard kick) 10: 40
S.F. — Bartschi from Yancey (Yancey run) 7:06
K — Huft 16 from Wright (Wright kick) 4:23
K — Huft 29 run (Wright kick) 1:46
S.F. — Zundel 5 from Yancey (Bartschi from Yancey) :24