SANDPOINT – Sandpoint made a statement on Friday evening.
The Bulldogs beat Mountain Home 46-0 in the first round of the 4A State Playoffs to eliminate the Tigers and advance to the State Quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
A Bulldog victory was never in question as SHS (6-2) scored all of their points in the first half.
Entered as the seed, Sandpoint could have ignored their first-round opponent, but it was clear they never let complacency set in. They dominated from start to finish.
“That’s how we’re built,” said head coach Ryan Knowles, “… I also believe there’s just a no-give up attitude. We want to be perfect and coaches and the players accepted it. “
Now only three wins separate the Bulldogs from their second state title.
“There are eight teams left on this board in my office now,” Knowles said, “and I know there are some good ones coming out today and we are honored to be one of the remaining teams.”
Sandpoint has now won five straight games.
“We saw this [Mountain Home] did it and we prepared accordingly, “Knowles said.” They have players out there worth worrying about, and again we asked our guys to step up and they intensified. “
Sandpoint’s offense was forced to kick its opening disc, but after that the Bulldogs couldn’t be stopped.
Running back Gerrit Cox scored Sandpoint’s first four touchdowns in Friday’s game. In his first score of the night, Cox returned a 39-yard punt to put the Bulldogs deep inside Mountain Home territory at 13. Two plays later, the senior hit him with a metre.
The Bulldog’s defense was solid in the first half, allowing SHS to grab the battle for position on the pitch. Of nine Mountain Home possessions in the first half, Sandpoint forced a pair of turnovers, five threes and outs and one turndown on the lows. SHS didn’t allow the Tigers to get a first down before it was just over four minutes left in the second quarter.
Already with a 27-0 deficit halfway through the second quarter, Mountain Home (3-7) decided to give it a shot in fourth and 1 of their own 29 with 4:51 left in the half. Junior linebacker Wes Benefield made them pay for the decision. He blew the line and destroyed the Tigers’ game to force a turnaround on the downs.
Two games later, Benefield was rewarded for his big defensive save when the Bulldogs handed the ball to him and he bulldozed for 15 yards to give SHS a 34-0 lead.
On the next ride to Mountain Home, junior Joseph Hughes managed a pass to put SHS in 19th place against the Tigers. Two games later, quarterback Parker Pettit joined junior wide Cody Newhart for a 5-yard score.
On the first play of the Tigers’ next possession, junior safety back Koda Hartley intercepted a pass to give the ball back to Sandpoint’s offense and two plays later second-year running back Kody Brewster scored his first. career university touch.
The Bulldog defense kept Mountain Home at 147 yards – 106 rushing and 41 in the air. They also finished with four turnovers.
Knowles said his defense was money all night.
“Right off the bat you could tell our guys were flying,” he said. “They did new things that they haven’t done all year so our guys handled that on the fly, which is great for our guys’ understanding and knowledge of football.”
Sandpoint slashed Mountain Home’s defense for seven touchdowns. Cox finished with 87 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and Pettit finished 7 of 8 for 122 yards and one touchdown.
Knowles said he loved watching offensive coordinator Jeremy Thielbahr get down to work finding weaknesses in the defense. He added that the offense is buzzing right now.
“The chemistry between Pettit and Cox and the receptors and the O line is fun to watch,” he said. “I’m doing my defensive corrections as fast as I can so I can get out there and watch them in action.”
Sandpoint rested their starters the entire second half and the saves had plenty of playing time. Knowles said the team rushed to half-time to figure out their game plan to bring in all of the reservations.
“They are our training team and they are getting ready for next year so bringing them all in was a little stressful at half time and I think we were almost late to get out. [on the field]”, he said,” … but it’s great to have them and get our starters going. You could see the starters all excited for them. “
Despite the dominant win, Knowles believes there are certain things they need to work on special teams. Sandpoint missed a basket and failed to convert three extra point attempts.
“We want to clean up because at some point we will need a point to win a game,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back to the training ground and fix this.”
The Bulldogs will host No. 8 Shelley (7-3) in the state quarterfinal next Friday at War Memorial Field.
“We have a good Shelley team coming to town who are going to provide their own set of rides and we’re going to start working on that,” he said. “It’s going to take all three phases and proper execution and preparation.”
Mountain house 0 0 0 0 – 0
Sand point 14 32 0 0 – 46
SHS – Gerrit Cox 1 yard run (Jacob Gove kick), 4:34.
SHS – Cox 14-yard run (Gove kick), 1:37.
SHS – Cox 16-yard run (tie kick), 11:55.
SHS – Cox 5-yard run (Gove kick), 7:22.
SHS – Wes Benefield 15 yards (Gove kick), 4:34.
SHS – Cody Newhart passes Parker Pettit 5 yards (draw), 2:07.
SHS – Kody Brewster 10-meter run (tie kick), 1:11.
RUSHING – MH, Pierson 12-56, Wright 4-14, Wins 5-6, Reynolds 4-13, Sykes 2-1, Scovil 1-5, Munoz 2-11. SHS, Cox 11-87, Pettit 3-4, Sherrill 8-21, Frank 1-16, Benefield 1-15, Brewster 4-20, Garcia 2 (-10).
PASSAGE – MH, Gains 7-21-3-41. SHS, Pettit 7-8-0-122, Garcia 0-2-1-0.
RECEPTION – MH, Sabol 2-11, Parker 1-13, Pierson 1 (-2), Munoz 2-24. SHS, Frank 2-23, Newhart 3-36, VanDenBerg 1-8, Kuhn 1-55.