Sugar-Salem fell 20-7 to Shelley Friday in Sugar City ending a two year win streak for the Diggers over the 4A Russets.
After a scoreless first quarter, Shelley scored twice in the second quarter. Sugar came within a score when running back Wyatt Harris scored on a 33 yard touchdown run but Shelley scored two minutes later to back their two-touchdown lead.
“I think Shelley played a physical game of football,” said Sugar-Salem head coach Tyler Richins. “I think they did a good job controlling the clock and not making mistakes. Overall, I think just their ability to control the game and limit their mistakes is what put them above us.”
Turnovers plagued the Diggers all night. They turned the ball over five times including four interceptions. Two of those interceptions were balls tipped at the line of scrimmage.
“They were able to get their hands up and get in those passing lanes and disrupt the pass from the line of scrimmage,” Richins said. “Unfortunately we just turned the ball over too much. We had (356) yards of total offense and we only put seven points on the board. That’s a problem.”
Quarterback Neal played well, apart from the interceptions, throwing for 262 yards on 21 of 36 attempts.
“I thought Daniel, overall, played a better game last night,” Richins said. “But, turnovers are haunting us for these last two games for sure.”
Jonah Schulthies led the Diggers with seven catches for 127 yards, Cooper Porter added six catches for 54 yards and Cooper Butikofer added five catches for 57 yards.
Carson rushed for 43 yards on nine carries and Wyatt Harris added 42 yards on five carries.
Richins said he didn’t feel like the Russets and Diggers former conference rivalry had much to do with the effort Shelley displayed.
“Everybody is motivated when they play us,” Richins said. “We’ve talked about that from the very beginning of the season. We’re going to get everybody’s best game no matter who we’re playing. We are a measuring stick for every team that plays us because of our last few years being on top of the world everybody wants to know how they match up against Sugar.”
The Diggers play their first road game of the season next week when they travel to Afton, Wyoming to play Star Valley. Richins believes taking care of the football will determine the Diggers’ success moving forward.
“We have to figure out how to not turn the ball over,” Richins. “We don’t turn the ball over we win the football game last night—I’m convinced of it. Having four interceptions plus a fumble. It was just not a good situation for us. So until we figure out how to not turn the ball over we’re going to struggle.”