By Jason Enes, Idaho State Journal
When Pocatello and Preston met three weeks ago, Pocatello walked away with a 60-18 win and the 4A Fifth District championship.
When they met Friday in the second round of the 4A state playoffs at Holt Arena, Pocatello ended Preston’s season with a 48-21 victory.
The Poky defense forced seven Preston turnovers, four coming in the first half, and all but two led to Pocatello touchdowns.
Already up 14-0 late in the first quarter, Pocatello got its first turnover when Jerron Batts intercepted a Baker Ward pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Batts’ score was Pocatello’s second in the span of 44 seconds.
Preston got their only score of the first half on the ensuing drive when Ward found Chase Childers with a 44-yard pass. Two plays later he found Wyatt Christensen with a 32-yard pass. Ward capped the drive with a fourth-and-goal score from the three.
Childers would be involved in the next two Preston turnovers. He dropped a handoff from Ward on the Pocatello one-yard line and fumbled again on Preston’s next series, giving Pocatello the ball at midfield.
Colton Belnap intercepted Ward late in second quarter, but Scotty Lyons missed a 46-yard field goal.
Pocatello went into the half up 27-6.
The turnovers continued for Preston to start the third quarter as Ward was intercepted by Devan Kempe who returned it to the Pocatello 37. Belnap capped off the ensuing drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.
On the very next offensive play, Ward had a screen pass tipped up in the air and Pocatello’s Challis Nelson intercepted the pass and took it down to the Preston 10.
Batts scored from five yards out two plays later to make the Pocatello lead 41-6.
Bodie Cooper found a wide open Jake Jardine with a 25 yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter for Pocatello’s final touchdown.
Preston scored two fourth quarter touchdowns, capitalizing on a couple of turnovers from the Pocatello backups.
Ward found Christensen with touchdown passes of 12 and 16 yards to end Preston’s scoring.
Ward finished the game 12-for-31 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions. Pocatello rushed for 421 yards and five touchdowns on the night, with Moore and Belnap each scoring twice.
The victory earns Pocatello a trip to Middleton next week for a semifinal game. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday night.
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