By ROBERT S. MERRILL
The Shelley Russets mashed Preston Friday night, running away with the game in the second half of a non-district match-up. The final score was 35-7 for the 3A state defending champions.
The Indians were tied with Shelley just before the first half ended. But with 12 seconds left on the clock Russet quarterback Kaden Schmitt threw one of his touchdowns to put the visitors up 14-7 going into the break.
Preston never really recovered from that momentum shift.
“It’s a deflating loss,” said Preston head coach Nick Hyde. “But I’m not taking anything away from Shelley. They are a great team. Their defense really throttled our ground game.
“I was proud of our kids and the way they played in the first half. But we had a couple of costly fumbles and lost possession when a fourth-and-one play got stuffed. After that the wheels just kind of came off our wagon.”
Preston now has to regroup and get ready for an away game with district foe Minico this Friday night at 7 p.m.
“This was one of those non-district games that you want to forget about and move on,” said Hyde.
The Indians, now 2-3 on the year, scored their only touchdown in the waning minutes of the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Preston’s RJ Harris forced a fumble and the loose ball was recovered by Derek Fryar. On the next play quarterback Austin Smellie threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Harris.
Earlier in the quarter, it looked like Preston was going to score. But fumbled on the Shelley 15-yard line. Hyde said this type of turnover has haunted his team all season long.
“We get into the red zone and either lose the ball or penalties kill us,” he said. It’s something we are going to have to work on.”
Half way through the third quarter things really turned in the Russet’s favor when they scored twice in a two-minute span. The Indians’ deepest drive in the second half ended on Shelley’s 25-yard line.
Smellie had a decent night passing the ball and finished with 146 yards through the air. But Preston runners had a tough time. Courd Jones only had 36 rushing yards on 10 carries. Preston had 74 total rushing yards on 22 carries. Kaden Cole managed five receptions for 43 yards.
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