There will be no back-to-back state championships for the Rigby football team.
The Trojans, who seemingly needed every miracle they could muster to win last year’s wild double-overtime 5A championship game, ran out of magic on a brisk Saturday afternoon, falling to Rocky Mountain 17-14 in a game marred by turnovers and ultimately overshadowed by disappointment.
“It didn’t come out the way we wanted it, but that’s football,” Rigby linebacker Landon Johnson said after the postgame trophy celebration at midfield.
Both teams fumbled on their first possessions, setting the tone for the game. Rigby also came up with a red zone stop with an interception in the end zone to halt what had been an impressive drive by the Grizzlies in the first quarter.
Rocky Mountain finally capitalized on a Rigby fumble early in the second quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Maxwell Lehman.
Down 7-0, things only got worse for Rigby as Rocky Mountain’s Brayden Rundell picked off a Tiger Adolpho pass with the Trojans deep in Grizzlies territory.
Rigby’s defense held, but a fumble on the Trojans’ next possession set up Rocky Mountain for a short field goal attempt with 24 seconds left in the half.
“We knew both teams were going to move the football, it was about finishing drives,” Rigby coach Armando Gonzalez said. “When we turn the ball over you can’t finish drives so we shorted ourselves some opportunities.”
Despite the four turnovers, Rocky Mountain held just a 10-0 advantage entering the second half. The Trojans and Grizzlies sported two of the top scoring defenses in 5A, so a low-scoring game was probably a good bet. The good news for Rigby was that the Trojans also had a diverse and high-scoring offense to lean on, but they’d have to rally without starting quarterback Adolpho, who was replaced by Taylor Freeman in the second half following the rash of turnovers.
After Rocky Mountain was stopped on a fourth-down run at the Rigby 17-yard line to open the third quarter, the Trojans put together one of their best drives of the day, highlighted by a fake punt that caught the Rocky Mountain defense off guard and seemed to breathe life into what had been a stagnant Rigby offense.
Freeman capped the drive with a three-yard strike to tight end Con Dansie in the back of the end zone, cutting the advantage to 10-7.
“We knew we definitely had a chance,” said Freeman, who finished 12 of 19 for 176 yards in the second half.
But Rocky Mountain’s offense is no slouch either and responded with a six-play drive that took the game into the fourth quarter. It was Lehman again finding the end zone, this time on a 13-yard scamper.
The Grizzlies, who were still stinging from a loss to Rigby in last year’s semifinals, had all but squashed any momentum the Trojans had created in the second half.
But not quite.
Freeman again led the Trojans downfield, lofting a 22-yard pass to Trajen Larsen and working the middle of the field with Dansie.
Dansie’s eight-yard touchdown catch pulled Rigby within 17-14 with 3:40 remaining, but Rocky Mountain was able to corral the onside kick and ran out the clock with senior Jordan Erickson chewing up yardage to ice the game.
The loss snaps a 20-game win streak by the Trojans dating back to last season. They finish the season 10-1. Rocky Mountain, which knocked off No. 1 Coeur d’Alene in the semifinals, finishes 9-0.
By ALLAN STEELE
The Post Register
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 17, RIGBY 14
Rocky Mountain 0 10 0 7 – 17
Rigby 0 0 7 7 – 14
RM – Maxwell Lehman 2 run (Caden Zierenberg kick), 8:20
RM – FG Zierenberg 27, 0:24
R – Con Dansie 3 pass from Taylor Freeman (Trey Saathoff kick), 1:31
RM – Lehman 13 run (Zierenberg kick), 11:18
R – Dansie 8 pass from Freeman (Saathoff kick), 3:40
RUSHING — Rocky Mountain: Jordan Erickson 10-81, Arthur Williams 11-33, Zachary Nyland 1-6. Rigby: Gabe Mobley 8-71, Tiger Adolpho 4-(minus-1), Zheik Falevai 8-23, Taylor Freeman 4-(minus-7), Landon Johnson 2-3, Trey Saathoff 1-6.
PASSING – Rocky Mountain: Kobe Warr 12-14-0-149; Max Nead 0-1-1-0. Rigby: Tiger Adolpho 4-7-1-54, Taylor Freeman 12-19-0-176.
RECEIVING –Rocky Mountain: Max Nead 3-51, Erickson 2-19, Williams 4-39, Kade Thompson 1-16, Jackson Mason 1-12, Jack England 1-12. Rigby: Con Dansie 7-73, Trajen Larsen 5-83, Taylor Freeman 2-34, Colton Edwards 1-21, Zheik Falevai 1-19.