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Football season is upon us

From left, Twin Falls' Cy Mahlke, Merick Lounsbury, Bentley Swenson and Hudson Klundt have their photo taken Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, at Lighthouse Christians School in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — The players on the Twin Falls High School football team’s sideline were emotional as they watched their season come to an end at the hands of the Idaho Falls Tigers Friday night. The final game for 12 seniors didn’t go as planned, and head coach Allyn Reynolds knows exactly where things went wrong.

“They got after us on their defensive front,” Reynolds said. “As a program, we have to get a little bit tougher.”

Idaho Falls rode a physical, dominating effort in the trenches en route to a 33-14 victory over the Bruins at Twin Falls High School in the first round of the 4A state playoffs. It was Twin Falls' eighth straight playoff loss.

The game began with both sides unable to capitalize on their first drives. Twin Falls got the ball back for its second possession after Carson Walters recovered a fumble. However, a couple of plays later, Idaho Falls’ Kalvin Bowen picked off sophomore quarterback Nick Swensen and returned the ball 32 yards for a touchdown.

Undeterred, the Bruins responded with a haymaker of their own.

Jake Humphrey returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards and into the end zone. It took a whole nine seconds of game time for the teams to combine for 14 points.

Twin Falls recovered yet another fumble on the kick return, but was unable to capitalize as Swensen was dropped for a sack on fourth down.

The entire night was decided by what happened in the trenches. Defensively, the Tigers’ front seven was a fortress, and the Bruins struggled to find the cracks. Swensen (13-of-29, 112 yards, two interceptions) was hit often and had little time when he dropped back to pass.

“Nick Swensen is a sophomore,” Reynolds said. “We have to keep that in mind. He did a hell of a job for us this year.”

On the other side of the ball, Twin Falls had no answer for the Tigers’ punishing ground game. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, senior Cameron Conrad was a load to bring down. Idaho Falls also manhandled the Bruin defensive line for most of the game. Conrad finished the game 331 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.

“Our defense played really, really well,” Reynolds said. “(Conrad) got his yards, and we knew he would, but I thought our kids, for the most part, rallied.”

Idaho Falls got a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cannon Thompson near the end of the first quarter, and the Tigers led 14-7.

That would be the score at the half, despite Walters’ second fumble recovery, Twin Falls’ third in the first two quarters.

“We turned them over three times in the first half and weren’t able to do anything with it,” Reynolds said. “You have to be able to score. I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. We just have to make plays.”

The third quarter began with a long Idaho Falls drive that culminated with Thompson keeping the ball on a read option play and scoring from 20 yards out.

The Tigers’ defense continued to batter Twin Falls throughout the period, and the Bruins trailed 20-7 entering the fourth.

Twin seniors Hudson Klundt and Collin Aardema fired each other up between quarters, and the Bruin defense finally responded with its season on the line. Klundt slammed an Idaho Falls ball carrier to the turf, then helped pressure Thompson on fourth down to get his offense the ball back.

Twin Falls was once again unable to find its offensive mojo and eventually gave it back to the Tigers after coming up short on fourth down.

That’s when Idaho Falls brought out the dagger.

On fourth down and 11 from the Bruin 26, Thompson dropped an absolute dime into Bowen’s lap in the back of the end zone. The Tigers led 27-7 with 4:21 to play.

Twin Falls punted on its next possession and pinned Idaho Falls on its own five. But Conrad burst up the middle — through yet another giant hole — and outraced the defense for a 95-yard security touchdown.

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The Bruins’ offense finally found the end zone when Jarod Perry (111 yards on 24 carries) punched the ball in from a yard out with 26 seconds remaining.

Twin Falls’ year comes to an end with a record of 7-3. Reynolds, after retiring and coming back in the same offseason, can’t help but talk fondly of his 12 seniors.

“These guys have class,” he said. “Sometimes we have to lose with some dignity, and we did that. I appreciate the four years they gave us. You feel bad for them, but in a program, you have to keep moving forward.

“I’ve had a hell of a good time this year. This has been a great team. These guys are a bunch of great young men to be around, at all levels — freshman, JV and varsity. I couldn’t have asked for more as far as guys giving us their effort.”

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