POCATELLO – This season seemed different for Marsh Valley, but how the year ended looked painfully familiar.
For the second consecutive season, Marsh Valley was held scoreless in a blowout loss in the postseason against Sugar-Salem and failed to clinch its first playoff win since 2011.
Following a 35-0 first-round loss against the Diggers last season, Marsh Valley fell to them 41-0 on Friday at Holt Arena in the 3A state quarterfinals after facing deficits of 14-0 and 28-0 at the end of the first and second quarters, respectively.
“I’m not disappointed about this game,” Eagles coach Doug Armstrong said. “Sometimes you have to get knocked on your butt to make some further strides. It’s one thing to lose that ball game. It’s another to use that for fuel to improve. And I’ve got a group of underclassmen in there that will take today’s game and use it to fuel what happens over the next 12 months.”
Marsh Valley moved into the red zone once all game after senior Payton Campbell took a kick return to the Diggers’ 18-yard line with one second remaining in the first half. But quarterback Riley Lloyd‘s ensuing throw into the end zone was intercepted, nixing the Eagles’ best chance to put points on the scoreboard.
The passing game was a determinant and the Diggers (8-1) had one, while the Eagles had none.
Sugar-Salem scored its second touchdown of the game on a drive that started at Marsh Valley’s 2 after Gerohm Rihari snagged his first of two interceptions that he turned into a near pick-six.
On the other side, Diggers quarterback Tanner Harris completed 8 of 14 passes for two touchdowns and 126 yards – nearly double his counterpart’s 69 yards. He also added a team-high 81 yards rushing on nine carries to contribute to his offense’s 296 yards rushing.
To kick off the scoring, Harris completed all three of his passes for 63 yards in the first touchdown drive of the game, capped by a 25-yard over-the-shoulder catch by Ethan Warner.
Marsh Valley’s one-dimensional offense struggled to keep up from the get-go, without a first down until its third possession. The Eagles lost the battle in the trenches and also turned the ball over four times.
In the meantime, the Diggers were slicing through 3A’s top scoring defense. And the Diggers never let off the gas, compiling at least one TD in every quarter. They reached the end zone on 60 percent of their drives and made it into enemy territory in all but one possession.
While the Eagles end their season 6-3, Sugar-Salem’s trek continues after its shutout and will face Kimberly in the 3A state semifinals.v“They’re a good defense, and they showed it tonight,” Campbell said of a team that is allowing eight points per game this season. “They have 11 men at the ball every time. They all work hard, and they don’t give up. They just fight for the ball every single play.”
SUGAR-SALEM 41, MARSH VALLEY 0
Marsh Valley 0 0 0 0 – 0
Sugar-Salem 14 14 6 7 – 41
S — Ethan Warner 25-yard catch from Tanner Harris (Luke Terry PAT) 5:17
S — Kyle Ostermiller 2 run (Terry PAT) 3:21
S — Samuel Parkinson 2 run (Terry PAT) 4:50
S — Ostermiller 1 run (Terry PAT) 0:12
S — Parkinson 2 run (PAT fail) 4:45
S — Grady Rasmussen 12 catch from Harris (Terry PAT) 11:55
RUSHING – Sugar-Salem: Hadley Miller 5-73, Samuel Parkinson 7-81, Tanner Harris 9-81, Kyle Ostermiller 6-16, Hayden Crapo 1-32, No. 32 4-20, No. 25 1-(-3) Gerohm Rihari 1-(-4). Marsh Valley: Payton Campbell 19-82, Tate Barker 5-32, Riley Lloyd 5-(-9), Aaron Marshall 2-(-1), Dane Wissenback 3-8, Kellen Belnap 1-1, Hunter Roche 1-7.
RECEIVING – Sugar-Salem: Rihari 2-20, Miller 1-24, Grady Rassmussen 1-12, McKay Shulties 1-14, Ethan Warner 2-26, Riley Thurber 1-27. Marsh Valley: Wissenback 2-30, Campbell 1-4, Marshall 2-35.
PASSING – Sugar-Salem: Harris 8-14-123-2-0. Marsh Valley: Lloyd 5-13-69-0-2.