Third-and-long is what a defense is aiming for, but third-and-long wasn't a great place to be for the Wood River High School defense Friday during a 41-13 non-conference football loss to the unbeaten Kimberly Bulldogs, at Kimberly.
Kimberly's 35.5 ppg offense converted seven of 14 third-down situations for 130 yards and also made good on a pair of fourth-and-long attempts to keep its attack moving along en route to a 28-0 first-half lead and a 28-point home victory.
The outcome kept Wood River (0-3, 0-0 league) winless in three games and improved Kimberly's season record to 4-0. In fact, all three of Wood River losses have come to unbeaten 3A teams—top-ranked Fruitland (4-0), #3-ranked Buhl (4-0) and #4-ranked Kimberly (4-0).
And the road doesn't get any easier Friday, Sept. 28 when Wood River visits yet another unbeaten team, the #2-ranked 4A Minico Spartans at Rupert.
Minico (5-0, 1-0 league, 19-5 over three years) hasn't lost a Great Basin Conference West game since 2004 and is averaging 39.0 ppg this season including a 35-34 home triumph over reigning State 4A champion Pocatello back on Aug. 24.
Wood River coach Mike Glenn said about Friday's league debut at Rupert, "Minico has a good quarterback, does some good things and maximizes their talent. Their numbers are huge. I'm not saying we match up, but it's not as daunting as it seems."
Minico has three straight football wins over Wood River by a 96-20 count including last year's 35-0 victory in Hailey. Senior quarterback Dane Broadhead threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns last year, and he's back at the helm.
Kimberly also had a good passing quarterback in 6-4 senior Evan Jerke. He exploited Wood River's inexperienced secondary for 13 completions in 19 attempts and 243 yards. Jerke was particularly effective on third and fourth downs, completing eight passes for 151 yards in those key situations.
The well-balanced Kimberly offense featured 248 rushing yards headed up by 6-0, 175-pound junior Eric Marvin (30 carries, 165 yards, 4 TD) in addition to the 243 passing yards. Marvin also caught five passes for 69 yards out of the backfield, hurting Wood River in the wide-open flanks.
Glenn said, "They killed us on the edges and along the sidelines with their go routes. We made stupid mistakes and didn't give ourselves a chance. But on the defensive side, take away those mental mistakes and we're close. We're attacking the line of scrimmage and flying with the football better.
"We're showing all the signs of being a young football team. When you have young players, it takes four or five games while you take your lumps."
After a dismal first half, Wood River's offense came alive with the second-half kickoff. The big moment in the 10-play, 68-yard, three-minute scoring drive was a 17-yard scramble by senior quarterback Danny Kramer on fourth-and-seven near midfield.
Senior running back Matt Libert then scored his first touchdown of the season—and Wood River's first rushing TD—from 10 yards out. Senior Matt Staskiewicz then stopped Kimberly's next drive with an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 28-13 game.
Glenn said, "We were a little fired up and playing with more emotion after the half. We put it all together and scored."
But Kimberly scored more and now leads the 27-game football series 15-12.
See this week's Web site for complete statistics from the Wood River-Kimberly game.