POCATELLO — Visibly and vocally frustrated — up just six points at halftime against a team its beaten before in the same venue in the same circumstances — Skyline had its “come to Jesus moment” Friday night.
Or, its “come to Parker Reynolds” moment.
Reynolds, Skyline’s passionate, senior lineman, told his teammates to “get some fire” at halftime against Minico.
The Grizzlies answered Reynolds’ plea — beating the Spartans, 36-28, with a rejuvenated run game and by outscoring their former 4A state championship opponent 16-14 during the second half.
“It’s just us: we’re right on the brink of being instead of a ‘good team’ a ‘great team’ and instead of a ‘good o-line’ a ‘great o-line’,” Reynolds said. “We just need to get that one little block, or hold that block for one second longer to make a five-yard gain into a 50-yard gain.
“I say that every game, every series I start it off with: ‘Come on, guys, we gotta get some fire. We gotta go,’” Reynolds added.
After accumulating 29 yards on five carries during the first two quarters, Skyline running back Luke Ruiz took 12 hand-offs for 64 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
Ruiz finished with 93 yards and two touchdowns (Skyline’s offense finished with 167 total rushing yards and four touchdowns), as Skyline won its seventh-straight playoff game.
“He gets after people, in a good way,” said Cruz Taylor, who finished with two rushing touchdowns. “He does.”
An unconfident Grizzlies offensive line? In the first half, yes.
After a 13-play drive that chewed up five minutes and 27 seconds of the opening clock and ended in a Cruz Taylor off-tackle, two-yard scamper into the endszone, Skyline’s offense only scored because of two explosive plays: an Eli Ames 96-yard touchdown catch and a three-yard run by Ruiz after Cruz Taylor returned a kickoff 92-yards.
Other than those two scores, Friday’s first half belonged to a Minico team that saw quarterback Connor Stocking throw two touchdown passes and a Skyline offensive line that had two false start penalties and two botched snaps from sophomore center Asher Radford (who is filling in for Nate Koplin).
“Give (Reynolds) the credit for putting the time in,” Skyline coach Scott Berger said. “In those huddles, he’ll say ‘hey, run behind me!’ And he’ll tell the back, ‘get behind me!’ and you like to see guys like that.”
A confident offensive line in the second half due to some reaffirmation? Yes. The Grizzlies won their third-straight game thanks to a rejuvenated offensive line that opened up holes for Ruiz frequently and helped quarterback Easton Taylor pass for more than 300 yards on wide receiver and bubble screens.
“It doesn’t matter how we win, as long as we do ... I want to applaud (Skyline’s offensive line) for being able to step up and being able to fill a position,” Reynolds said. “For this game, we really came back to the basics and came back to the roots of the plays we run.”
Skyline (8-2) plays at Bishop Kelly next week — another opponent it played in last’s year state playoffs — in the 4A quarterfinals.
But for now, the Grizzlies survive and advance.
“Give Minico credit, they battled and played hard,” Berger said. “But you know what: every team you play this time of year should be playing like that.”