It may have been a battle between teams that have won the last three 4A state championships, but Thursday's football game between Skyline and Hillcrest had more immediate implications.
With just three weeks remaining in the regular season and Blackfoot already taking control of the conference, the Grizzlies and Knights both needed a win to keep control of their postseason fates.
As expected, both teams tried to control the game on the ground on the frigid night, but it was the Grizzlies scoring on their first two possessions that ultimately set the tone and Hillcrest couldn't catch up as Skyline pulled away for a 28-7 victory at Ravsten Stadium.
With the win, Skyline improved to 2-1 in the 4A District 6 conference, a game behind Blackfoot. Hillcrest, at 2-2, is in fourth place and trails Idaho Falls at 2-1.
"We knew we had a big challenge tonight," Skyline coach Scott Berger said. "They run that offense so well and man, we had to come ready to go."
Skyline quarterback Cruz Taylor busted loose for a 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for the early lead and Hillcrest countered with a long drive that ended at the Grizzlies' 16-yard line without any points.
Skyline took over and drove downfield with Taylor orchestrating the drive with his arm this time, finding Eli Ames for a 47-yard gain and capping the drive with a 19-yard scoring pass to Luke Ruiz.
That proved all the cushion that the Grizzlies (4-3 overall) would need.
Hillcrest (3-4 overall) put together an 80-yard, 16-play drive that took up most of the second quarter. Quarterback Seth Curtis avoided Skyline defenders and hit Colby Sessions for a 6-yard touchdown on a fourth-down play with 27 seconds left in the half to give the Knights some momentum.
But it wouldn't last.
Ames caught a short pass and turned it into a 49-yard touchdown with 4:46 left in the third. Hillcrest punted on its three possessions in the third and never really challenged in the second half.
Ruiz added the final score for Skyline with a 5-yard run in the fourth.
"We struggle a little bit when we get behind," Hillcrest coach Kevin Meyer said. "We just weren't consistent enough up front today. We couldn't get drives going."
Skyline plays Shelley next week and finishes the regular season against Bonneville.
Hillcrest has a nonconference game against Thunder Ridge next week and then concludes the regular season against Idaho Falls, a game that could have postseason implications.
"I think our kids will bounce back," Meyer said.
SKYLINE 28, HILLCREST 7
Hillcrest 0 7 0 0 — 7
Skyline 7 7 7 7 — 28
S - Cruz Taylor 47 run (Chris Cortez kick), 7:18
S - Luke Ruiz 19 pass from Taylor (Cortez kick), 6:38
H - Colby Sessions 6 pass from Seth Curtis (Haws Gutama kick), 0:27
S - Eli Ames 49 run (Cortez kick), 4:46
S - Ruiz 5 run (Cortez kick), 10:22
RUSHING: Hilcrest, Tre Kofe 15-49, Keegan Porter 17-41, Demick Hatch 11-40, Curtis 6-11, Sessions 1-0. Skyline, Ruiz 8-66, Taylor 6-80, Ames 3-61, Connor Maloney 2-11, Bridger Swafford 3-18, Teagan Anderson 1-1, Cade Marlow 1-6.
PASSING: Hillcrest, Curtis 7-16-87-1, Hatch 0-1-0-0. Skyline, Taylor 11-18-143-2, Marlow 1-1-4-0.
RECEIVING: Hillcrest, Kofe 1-8, Sessions 3-50, Brett Bartell 1-3, Porter 1-12, Garrett Phippen 1-14. Skyline, Elijah Johnson 1-11, Ames 3-59, Maloney 1-13, Jace Eames 4-39, Ruiz 1-19, Davion Cruz 1-2.