Bishop Kelly back in cham­pi­onship

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY MICHAEL LYCKLAMA mly­ck­lama@ida­hostates­man.com

Cling­ing to its play­off life, the Bishop Kelly High foot­ball team turned to the unit that has made it one of the state’s premier pro­grams for decades — its de­fense.

The Knights sent the house while nurs­ing a seven-point lead at its own 11-yard line late in the fourth quar­ter. The blitz forced Val­livue quar­ter­back Lan Lari­son to throw the ball away on fourth down, and Bishop Kelly ran out the fi­nal 5 min­utes, 8 sec­onds of the clock to hang on for a 34-27 win at home in the 4A state semi­fi­nals.

The vic­tory lifts Bishop Kelly into the state cham­pi­onship game for the fifth time in six years. The No. 2-ranked Knights (10-1) face No. 1 Hill­crest (11-1) at 1 p.m. Satur­day, Nov. 17, at Boise State’s Al­bert­sons Sta­dium.

“It never gets old,” Bishop Kelly coach Tim Bren­nan said. “It’s one game at a time, but this is where we wanted to be, play­ing the week­end be­fore Thanks­giv­ing.”

That goal wasn’t guar­an­teed en­ter­ing the sea­son. The Knights fell in the state quar­ter­fi­nals last sea­son and had to start over af­ter grad­u­at­ing seven first-team all-con­fer­ence mem­bers and seven more on the sec­ond team.

But the peren­nial pow­er­house reloaded be­hind 27 se­niors to re­store three tra­di­tions at Bishop Kelly — a phys­i­cal run­ning game, a shut­down de­fense and state cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ances.

“I feel like we ended early (last sea­son) and we need to fin­ish that this year,” Bishop Kelly se­nior Matt Heil­man said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Val­livue (8-4) en­tered the game as the state’s top of­fense at 46.5 points per game, and the Falcons hung 39 points on Bishop Kelly in Week 2. But the Knights held an of­fense that had scored 50 or more points in three straight weeks in check.

Bishop Kelly forced two turnovers and three three­and-out drives to limit Val­livue to 353 to­tal yards, 148 be­low their sea­son aver­age.

“It’s a bold state­ment,” Bishop Kelly se­nior line­backer Mike Stone said, “but we’re the best de­fense in the state.”

Bishop Kelly jumped out to a 34-13 lead in the third quar­ter af­ter Heil­man re­cov­ered a fum­ble and Jack­son Huskey broke free for a 39-yard touch­down run two plays later. But a hob­bled Val­livue came roar­ing back.

Fight­ing through a heavy limp, Lari­son threw touch­down passes of 17 and 22 yards to Jay­den Mo­ran to cut the deficit to seven points. Cobe Lehman then blocked a punt to set the Falcons up at the Bishop Kelly 32-yard line with 6:36 left. But the Knights’ de­fense an­swered the bell one fi­nal time.

“We didn’t play great in that fourth quar­ter,” said Jack­son Light­ner, a se­nior tight end/de­fen­sive end. “But when we needed them to step up, they did.”

The loss ended a historic sea­son for Val­livue, which reached the state semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2000. Lari­son fin­ished 13-for-29 for 161 yards and two TDS while run­ning for 62 yards and two more scores. Mo­ran caught nine passes for 113 yards and two TDS.

HILL­CREST 41, NAMPA 20

Nampa quar­ter­back Braden Mi­nor scored on a 5-yard TD on the game’s open­ing drive. But the No. 1-ranked Knights (11-1) scored 34 unan­swered points to clinch their first state cham­pi­onship berth since 2008.

Hill­crest ran for 579 yards as three run­ning backs topped 150 yards. Oak­ley Hussey fin­ished with 202 rush­ing yards, Trae Henry 168 and Kyle Austin 160. All three ran for two touch­downs.

Austin and Hill­crest only threw the ball three times.

Mi­nor added a 72-yard touch­down pass late in the fourth quar­ter, and Braden Draper re­turned a fum­ble 65 yards for a TD for Nampa (9-3), which reached the semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2007.

HIGH­LAND 28, MOUN­TAIN VIEW 18

De­fend­ing state champ High­land held Moun­tain View to its sec­ond-low­est of­fen­sive out­put this sea­son to re­turn to the state cham­pi­onship. The Rams (10-1) face Rocky Moun­tain (11-0) at 10 a.m. Satur­day at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium.

Moun­tain View racked up 430 yards of of­fense, in­clud­ing 295 pass­ing yards and three TDS from Noah Bryant. But High­land snuffed out any come­back by hold­ing the Mav­er­icks score­less in the fourth quar­ter.

Lan­don De­muzio led High­land with 203 to­tal yards and a touch­down.

The game fea­tured some con­tro­versy af­ter the Idaho State Jour­nal re­ported Moun­tain View ripped down High­land ban­ners on the Mav­er­icks’ side­line.

Moun­tain View coach Judd Benedick told the Jour­nal he wasn’t aware of it un­til af­ter the game.

“We cer­tainly don’t want to be class­less,” Benedick said. “That’s not who we are.”

HOMEDALE 35, TIM­BER­LAKE 20

Ma­son Kinch­e­loe ran for 298 yards and three touch­downs to lead Homedale (11-0) to its first 3A state cham­pi­onship game in pro­gram his­tory and its first ti­tle game ap­pear­ance since 1999. Kinch­e­loe ran for scores of 10, 12 and 5 yards, and the Tro­jans racked up 507 yards of of­fense.

Homedale faces the win­ner of Satur­day’s late game be­tween Kim­berly (10-1) and Sugar-salem (8-1) next week in a to-be­de­ter­mined lo­ca­tion in the Trea­sure Val­ley.

DECLO 61, WEST SIDE 28

Boise State com­mit Kee­gan Dun­can turned 15 touches into 284 to­tal yards and seven touch­downs to lead Declo

(11-0) back to the fi­nals for the third year in a row. Dun­can did most of his dam­age on the ground, run­ning for 128 yards and five TDS on 11 car­ries. He also caught a touch­down and threw for a score.

The Hor­nets face North Fre­mont (11-0) for the 2A ti­tle next week at Holt Arena with a time and date to be de­ter­mined.

VAL­LEY 42, WILDER 40

Un­ranked Wilder earned a first-and-goal at Val­ley’s 10-yard line with 23 sec­onds left. But No. 2 Val­ley’s Ja­son Hardy picked off a pass at his own 4-yard line with 18 sec­onds left to stave off the Wild­cats’ (10-2) up­set bid.

Val­ley (10-1) ad­vances to face Oak­ley (9-2) at Holt Arena for the 1A Divi­sion I ti­tle.

KATHER­INE JONES kjones@ida­hostates­man.com

Bishop Kelly beat Val­livue 34-27 in the 4A state foot­ball semi­fi­nals at Bishop Kelly High School on Fri­day.

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