South Fremont has led going into halftime in every game they’ve lost this season. Such was the case Friday when the Cougars lost 20-19 to Marsh Valley after leading 13-6 at halftime.
The Cougars first big play came when senior running back Tristan Olson weaved then broke a handful of tackles setting up the Cougars inside the 10-yard line. Plays later, South Fremont quarterback Jace Neville took it in from three yards out to put South up 7-0.
Neville took an option play 27-yards to set the Cougars up for another score. He finished the drive with a 9-yard TD to Kaimen Peebles.
Marsh Valley receiver Dan Wissenbach scored on an 82-yard reverse early in the second quarter but for the most part South’s defense held in the first half.
The Cougars kept getting in the red zone for the rest of the half but couldn’t punch any of their drives in.
We got the lead like we do in the first half and we couldn’t hold on again.
“We looked really good (in the first half),” said South Fremont head coach Chad Hill. “Our defense was playing lights out. Our offense we had the ball on their end of the field the whole time. We scored on our first two drives.”
South’s second half started out poorly when they fumbled the opening kickoff giving Marsh Valley the ball inside the Cougars’ 30. The Eagles drove down the field and scored on a 11-yard run by Tate Baker. South held Marsh on their 2-point try maintaining a 13-12 lead.
Marsh Valley scored again in the fourth quarter when running back Michael Belnap broke free on a 41-yard touchdown run. Belnap also scored the Eagles two-point conversion to put them a 20-13 lead.
While Marsh’s offense got going South’ offense sputtered. The Eagles went cover 0 taking out their safety and daring South to pass.
“They were bating us into passing and it was wet and we struggled throwing the football tonight,” Hill said. “They were just trying to make us pass the ball and not run the ball. They were bringing seven guys in the box and just covering man on man on the outside. We struggled getting open against it and getting the ball there against it. In the second half we struggled moving the ball a little bit.”
Injury added to South’s adversity when Jace Neville went down with and apparent neck injury.
Kaimen Peebles stepped in at quarterback for the third week in a row and soon broke free for a 65-yard scramble on third and 9. Plays later, wide receiver Bridger Poulsen ran it in from a yard out. Unfortunately, a bad snap made it so the Cougars couldn’t get the extra point kick off and South Fremont stayed down one.
The Cougars continued to battle and got the ball back twice more but they weren’t able to move the ball much.
Injuries played a factor in the game. In addition to Neville going down, the Cougars were without Sawyer Hobbs who sat out with a sprained ankle and Bryan Popocatl went out near the beginning of the second half with a sprained ankle.
A few more inexperienced players stepped in to fill the void.
“Our kids competed hard,” Hill said . “We had a bunch of young guys step up. We had just a couple of young guys (in place of injured seniors). We even had some freshmen who even got some playing time tonight. I’m proud of the young guys who stepped up and filled in for the young guys who get a little dinged up.”
Neville’s neck injury doesn’t appear to be serious but he will go through concussion protocol this week.
“He kind of had some whiplash in his neck and head,” Hill said. “I don’t know that it was a concussion. He was feeling better after the game. I wouldn’t say good by any means but he was feeling okay. I don’t know if it’s a concussion but he’ll have to go in and be cleared because there’s a possible concussion there.”
Neville finished the game with 129 yard passing on 7/16 attempts. Neville also ran for 41 yards on 22 attempts.
Tristan Olson led the Cougars in rushing with 88 yards on 14 attempts. Peebles led the Cougars in receiving with three catches for 74 yards and added four rushes for 54 yards.
South Fremont’s main objective in their bye week next week is to get healthy.
After the bye, South with faceoff with arch rival Sugar-Salem in Sugar City.
“Our kids always come to play against Sugar,” Hill said. “I’m pretty sure our kids will be excited for that game. We know they’re solid and defensively they’re tough. We know our defense is going to have to step up and limit the amount of scores they get and offensively we’re going to have to try to control the pace of the game and keep the ball in our possession. If we can do that I think we’ll have a shot.”