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For the week of Oct. 27, 1999 through Nov. 2, 1999

Defense makes it a Bulldog night

Kimberly throttles Wood River 34-6


Things started badly and didn’t get much better for the Wood River High School varsity football team Friday during the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference championship game with the Kimberly Bulldogs.

Shortly after the introduction of 23 Bulldog seniors for "Senior Night," pumped-up Kimberly pounced on a Wolverine fumble and turned the good break into a touchdown three minutes into the game.

It was the first of four Wolverine turnovers.

Wood River senior Jake Nilsen suffered a season-ending ACL knee injury on the ensuing kickoff and the Wolverine offense went four-and-out.

Given good field position, the Bulldogs opened up a huge hole on a 51-yard inside handoff and led 14-0 with the game not five minutes old.

Not one, but two clipping penalties wiped out Max Paisley’s 93-yard TD kickoff return on the next play and Kimberly’s defense stopped Wood River in its tracks.

A shanked punt put the Wolverines in another hole. Fortunately a 24-yard Bulldog field goal attempt went wide.

All that, in the first six minutes. "You can’t start a game any worse," said Wood River coach John Blackman.

The final score was a Kimberly rout, 34-6, chiefly because the hard-nosed Bulldog defense didn’t allow a Wolverine first down until deep in the third quarter.

Kimberly’s offense kept the ball for 31 of 48 minutes and had a 15-4 edge in first downs.

Not being able to make it a close game was a big disappointment for Wood River (5-3, 4-1 league), which saw its five-game winning streak come to an end and settled for second place in the SCIC standings.

Blackman said, "We turned the ball over, something we haven’t done all season. Playing a good, fired-up Kimberly defense, our turnovers got them that much more fired up. We just got off on a bad foot.

"When Jake went down, that was huge. He was our starting guard, and he really had some good hits on the first series on defense when we stopped Kimberly. It left a big hole in not only our defense, but our offense as well."

Give plenty of credit to Kimberly, though. Coach Kirby Bright’s Bulldogs (5-3, 5-0 league) allowed only four touchdowns in five SCIC games this fall while averaging 33.6 points per game. They never surrendered more than six points each league game.

Wood River got its six points on a 75-yard quarterback draw by junior Cory Goicoechea with two minutes left in the first. But that was the only time the Wolverine offense crossed midfield in the first half.

"Kimberly had scouted us well. They knew our game plan," said Blackman.

Its lead cut to 14-6, Kimberly answered Wood River’s score with a 14-play, 65-yard TD drive that chewed up six minutes. Rushing seven times for 31 tough yards on the drive was Bulldog junior Kaid Gambrel (26 rushes for 117 yards), who scored three touchdowns.

Throughout the game, Wood River’s defense put a lot of pressure on Bulldog senior QB Billy Humphries (11-for-26 for 149 yards and 2 TDs).

But Humphries, hit often while passing, came up big by converting numerous third-down and fourth-down chances—and completing 11 passes to eight receivers.

After top Wood River tackler Todd Christiansen (10 tackles) stopped Kaid Gambrel for a short gain on a third-down draw play, Humphries went for it on fourth-and-three and found end Matt Kopydlowski wide open down the middle for a 42-yard TD strike.

That touchdown made it 28-6, Kimberly, at half-time.

Counting on its amazing third-quarter success (a 95-0 advantage over foes in the previous five games), Wood River was encouraged when Max Paisley returned the second half kickoff 52 yards to the Bulldog 38-yard-line.

Although Wood River finally enjoyed good field position at the Bulldog 33 and 36, the Wolverines couldn’t convert a pair of fourth-down attempts.

To add insult to injury, Kimberly then stopped an ill-conceived Wood River fourth-down run at the Wolverine 30 and Gambrel scored once again for the 34-6 final.

"It was tough—a hard game," said Blackman, adding that Wood River was hampered by several injuries to key linemen. "We had a lot of young kids who had to step up and play—kids like Evan Peebles and Joey Martinez, who both played very well.

"We’ve come a long way and I told that to the kids afterward. We did all the things I was hoping to do and accomplished a lot.

"I was hoping to win five games and have a winning season and get into the playoffs. I was hoping we’d improve our league standing by at least a spot.

"We tried to get our scoring average up, and we did that. We won all our home games. And we had great fan support—I think we had more people at Kimberly than Kimberly did."

 

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