Wood River High School cheerleaders get ready for Homecoming during a practice session Wednesday in the school gym. They are, bottom row from left, Estefani Murillo, Kimberly Herrera and Destiny Meeks; middle row, from left, Lariza Bedolla, Vanesa Martinez, Leslie Zuniga and Itzel Chavez; and, back row, from left, Indra Garcia, Amelia Anderson and Jacky Madrigal. Not shown are cheerleaders Yamilex Mendez and Lizeth Vargas. Their advisor is Shanniece Cortez.
Express photo by Roland Lane
The finish of Friday’s Wood River-Twin Falls football game wasn’t for the faint of heart.
On its Homecoming, Twin Falls couldn’t pull the trigger on several decent chances to win its first game of the season. And Wood River kept dodging bullet after bullet in its quest to remain unbeaten.
In the end Wood River junior placekicker Hunter Kern, a Community School transfer from the Seattle area, kicked a 19-yard field goal in overtime lifting the Wolverines to an improbable 24-21 Great Basin Conference triumph.
Wood River (3-0, 2-0 league) thus started a season 3-0 for the first time in 35 years and became the first team in school history to go 3-0 with all of its wins coming on the road.
Beating Twin Falls for the first time ever after being routed by the Bruins 186-55 in five previous losses, Wood River became the early leader in the GBC championship race and relegated Twin Falls to a 0-3 record, 0-1 in Great Basin play.
Coach Kevin Stilling said, “Our defense played a lot and played extremely well. We gave up some yards early in the game, but we stopped Twin when we absolutely had to.”
Wood River snapped a 10-game Great Basin winning streak put up by Twin Falls during its last two league championship seasons—dating back to a 39-36 Bruins victory at Jerome in Sept. 2012. In its five seasons in the GBC, Twin Falls had been 20-5 with three titles, two of them outright. On Friday, in front of a very sizable crowd of supporters that made the memorable trip to Bruin Stadium, opportunistic Wood River scored first and, more importantly, last.
A 63-yard pass connection from junior quarterback Alec Nordsieck to sophomore receiver Owen Gifford put the ball at the Twin Falls 1-yard-line late in the first quarter.
On third-and-goal, a play action pass from Nordsieck to junior Chris Lentz put Wood River ahead 6-0, then 7-0 when Kern made the first of his three extra-point kicks.
Twin Falls answered with its first touchdown midway through the second quarter. Wood River re-established a 14-7 lead when Gifford found a wide-open Gunner Gibson for a 52-yard touchdown on a halfback option pass play. The Bruins tied it 14-14 on a 28-yard pass play just before half.
The Bruins had the yardage advantage in every category Friday night and chewed up the clock with time-consuming methodical drives. Quarterback Kordell Williams (14-for-21, 169 yards) drove the Bruins to a 21-14 lead by scoring his second touchdown on short run in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, senior Cameron Benson—logging his first significant time at cornerback—made a huge interception giving Wood River possession at the Bruins 34-yard-line. Sophomore Ashton Owens (14 carries, 76 yards) ripped off 15- and 11-yard runs to the three, and followed an outstanding line charge for a three-yard TD.
“Our line mowed them down,” said Stilling.
Twin Falls looked like it was going to break the 21-21 tie but the Wolverine defense put up a goal-line-stand with four minutes left in the fourth quarter to set up the drama of the closing minutes. The game finally ended at 10:45 p.m.
Stilling said, “We stopped Twin on the one-foot-line on fourth down, then came right back and threw an interception that gave them another chance to score with a minute-and-a-half left.”
With time ticking away, Twin Falls missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, but got another chance to kick when Wood River was whistled for running into the kicker. This time, the Bruins missed their 18-yard chip shot for the win.
The overtime shootout gave each team one possession and chance to score from the 10-yard-line. Twin Falls went first and completed a pass to the three-yard-line. A nine-yard sack by Jubal Toothman pushed the Bruins back to the 12. They missed another field goal, this one from 29 yards.
Wood River went on offense and got a seven-yard Owens run to the three-yard-line, but a penalty pushed the Wolverines back to the 20.
Austin Savaria added five yards on a rocket sweep to the 15. After an incomplete pass, senior Hayden Thayer barreled through a huge hole on third down to the two-foot line. From there, Kern calmly booted the game winner.
At Twin Falls, Wood River (14 penalties for 130 yards) continued to have problems drawing penalty flags.
The Wolverines had 131 yards on 13 flags at Filer, and 120 yards on 11 penalties the week before at Jerome. The addition of the Twin Falls flags makes the three-week comparison 38 penalties-for-381 yards Wood River, 20-169 for its foes.
Wood River’s very respectable start to the 2014 season has focused more of a spotlight on the combined 4-11 record so far for the five other Great Basin teams including Twin Falls.
Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls (2-1, 0-0) lost 53-7 at home to Emmett last Friday after two season-opening wins. The Riverhawks visit Columbia Friday and travel to Minico (1-2, 0-0) Sept. 26.
A 54-24 home winner over Mountain Home Friday, Minico hosts Burley (0-3, 0-1) and Canyon Ridge in league clashes the next two Fridays.
Twin Falls goes back on the road against Hillcrest, Burley and Canyon Ridge the next three weeks. And Jerome (1-2, 1-1) goes to Mountain Home this Friday, having lost 58-14 at home to Pocatello last week. The Tigers must still play Minico, Twin and Canyon Ridge.
WRHS Line Score
Wood River 24, Twin Falls 21 (OT)
Wood River—Chris Lentz, 1-yard pass from Alec Nordsieck (Hunter Kern kick); 1:35 1st (7-0 WR).
Twin Falls—Kordell Williams, 1-yard run (Hayden Cowden kick); 7:11 2nd (7-7).
Wood River—Gunner Gibson, 52-yard pass from Owen Gifford (Hunter Kern kick); 2:45 2nd (14-7 WR).
Twin Falls—Josh Garner, 28-yard pass from Kordell Williams (Hayden Cowden kick); 1:01 2nd (14-14).
Twin Falls—Kordell Williams, 2-yard run (Hayden Cowden kick); 7:25 3rd (21-14 TF).
Wood River—Ashton Owens, 3-yard run (Hunter Kern kick); 10:29 4th (21-21).
Wood River—Hunter Kern, 19-yard field goal (24-21 WR).
|Time of possession
|1st downs, rush
|1st downs, pass
|1st downs, penalty
|1st downs, total
|Yards per carry
|Yards per completion
|Total yards gained
|Third down efficiency
|Fourth down efficiency
|Yards per punt
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Wood River
Rushing—Ashton Owens 14-76, 1 TD; Alec Nordsieck 8-27; Austin Savaria 5-17; Hayden Thayer 1-12.
Passing—Alec Nordsieck 3-7, 78 yards, 1 TD; Owen Gifford 2-5, 66 yards, 1 TD; Austin Savaria 0-2, 1 interception.
Receiving—Gunner Gibson 2-66, 1 TD; Owen Gifford 1-62; Austin Savaria 1-15; Chris Lentz 1-1, 1 TD.
Kickoff returns—Austin Savaria 1-24; Alec Nordsieck 1-9.
Interceptions (2)—Jubal Toothman 1, Cameron Benson 1.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Twin Falls
Rushing—Garret Karl 30-122; Kordell Williams 6-6, 2 TD; Efrain Contreras 3-1.
Passing—Kordell Williams 14-21, 169 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions; Kaleb Jones 0-1.
Receiving—Avery Manring 8-107; Josh Garner 1-28; Kaleb Jones 2-22; Landon Jones 2-12.
Kickoff returns—Efrain Contreras 2-34; Kris Webb 1-26.
Punt returns—Isaak Boyd 1-12.
Interceptions (1)—Kaleb Jones 1.