A pass might have seemed like the logical choice with his team facing third-and-35 from the Borah 30-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but Highland coach Gino Mariani didnt hesitate.
Mariani gave quarterback Neil Jewell the OK to run, and the Rams senior escaped a bevy of Borah tacklers for a 69-yard, momentum-stuffing play.
I told my boys, Ill go get this if you guys help me out, Jewell said. Thats it.
Highland converted on the ensuing play for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown and a 41-34 victory Friday night at Dona Larsen Park.
The Rams (8-2) advance to the 5A state semifinals and will host Coeur dAlene (8-2) next week at Holt Arena in Pocatello.
Thats a good football team. Borah does a lot of good things and we are fortunate, Mariani said. That was a hard-fought battle on both sides and thats the playoffs in a nutshell.
Fridays quarterfinal loss ended a banner season for the Lions (7-3).
Borah earned the 5A Southern Idaho Conferences No. 1 seed last week to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
Despite the loss, the Lions finish with their best record since 1995, when they advanced to the state semifinals and finished 9-2.
In a lot of ways, this might have been the best two football teams that lined up and played in the first round of the playoffs, but thats the way it goes, Borah coach Darren Corpus said. Our kids never quit, and for that we are so grateful. To have such quality young men, it makes our job easy.
Borah senior running back Hunter Kenyon the 5A SICs regular-season rushing leader sat out all but two plays with an ankle sprain.
But even without Kenyon, the Lions held their own. Borah had a 20-14 lead at the half and led 34-27 early in the fourth quarter of a back-and-forth game.
Borah junior quarterback Cole Skinner completed 28-of-44 passes for 428 yards and two touchdowns, and senior kicker Jacob Szuch went 4-for-4 on field goals, including a long of 33 yards.
Borah played their butts off, the whole team, Jewell said. They never gave up. They gave all their heart and it was actually cool to see and fun to play against. Its a memory I wont forget.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422