IDAHO FALLS — The Bonneville Bees, winners of two in a row heading into Friday’s 4A matchup with Blackfoot, have been winning ugly as of late, leaning on a bend-but-don’t-break defense.
They Bees could have won ugly Friday at Thunder Stadium, but Blackfoot got uglier.
Down three points heading into the fourth quarter, the Broncos picked off Bees quarterback Willie Nelson on back-to-back possessions to jump start their stagnant offense and eventually pull away 21-10 after junior running back Brayden Wright scored on runs of 20 yards and 1 yard following the costly interceptions.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Broncos and keeps Blackfoot (3-4, 1-2 4A District 6) alive in this year’s 4A playoff chase. The loss puts Bonneville at 4-3 and 1-2 in conference.
“I think our defense really sets the tone, especially when (quarterback) Craig (Young) went down and our offense struggled a little bit because Craig is our leader,” Blackfoot senior defensive back Dexter Hale said. “And when our leader went down, we had to have other leaders step up.”
Hale certainly stepped up when it mattered. He was responsible for the first of Blackfoot’s fourth quarter interceptions, snatching Nelson’s lob toward the left side of the field out of the brisk, October air.
Reece Robinson was responsible for the second, as the Broncos forced three turnovers during the final 12 minutes all while playing without Young. Blackfoot’s starting signal-caller sat out for most of the second half of Friday’s game following a helmet-to-helmet hit with Bonneville defenders, as Blackfoot relied on 155-pound receiver Cayden Cornell under center.
Starting quarterback or not, Blackfoot’s defense got ugly Friday in a must-win scenario — holding Bonneville in check thanks to four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumble recoveries).
“I think we stared off good. We had some mistakes, but we fixed them throughout the game,” said senior linebacker Jose Aguayo, who returned a botched snap to the Bonneville 35-yard line in the third.
“It feels good,” Aguayo added. “We’re going to move onto next week and keep working harder.”
A defensive bout during the first three quarters, Bonneville remained in control from the start.
The Bees’ defense — swarming to the ball throughout Friday — forced a safety and minus-6 yards during the Broncos’ opening possession.
Following Young’s 1-yard quarterback-keeper touchdown run at the end of the first quarter, the Bees allowed just 10 yards passing in the first half.
Bonneville allowed 12 total passing yards Friday and picked off Young once, as Nelson found nine different receivers.
“Our defense is kind of a bend-but-don’t break,” Bonneville coach Matt Virgil said. “But when you give them a short field a couple of times, you know, we put in an unfortunate circumstance.”
Following a lengthy opening third-quarter drive, which saw the Bees take about six minutes off the clock, the Bees seemed poised to hold out.
Virgil said the second half gameplan was to run the clock out, as Tavyn Lords finished the game with 91 yards on 17 carries. Most of those carries carries came in the third.
But, as Virgil admitted, Bonneville put itself in a bind — with its final drive ending with a fumble on the Blackfoot 2-yard line.
The Bees offense just ran out of time.
And the Broncos used the most of the time given to them.
“The beautiful thing about football is that you get what you earn,” Virgil said. “And you know, Blackfoot, in the second half, I thought they played better than we did and sometimes the turnovers bounce your way and sometimes they don’t.
“We were the victim of that tonight,” he added.
Bonneville plays Friday at Skyline Friday. Blackfoot hosts Hillcrest on Friday.
Source: The Associated Press