With less than 4 minutes remaining and the outcome no longer in doubt, Middleton tailback Victor Dias the do-it-all heart and soul of the Vikings senior class limped off the field.
After sitting one play, Dias returned to pick up a tough 7 yards on fourth-and-5. The Vikings went on to finish the drive with a Dias touchdown run a play that was meaningless on the scoreboard, but spoke volumes of this resilient Middleton team.
In spite of a second consecutive state championship loss to Blackfoot this one 48-19 on Friday at Dona Larsen Park Middleton refused to quit until the final whistle.
Regardless of the score, we were going to continue to play hard and finish it the right way, said Dias, who ran for 158 yards. We went out swinging, thats for sure.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, pride was all that was left to play for against a dominant Blackfoot team that is quickly becoming a 4A juggernaut. The Broncos have won three of the past four state titles and four of the past six, and they were dominant in all phases Friday.
We ran into a heck of a football team, Middleton coach Bill Brock said. Blackfoot is big, strong, fast and physical. They played well, they made the plays, and they deserve to be the state champions.
Blackfoot wasted little time seizing command. Middleton opened the scoring with a field goal, but the Broncos responded with a six-play scoring drive, capped by a 33-yard strike from Alonzo Ramos to Colby Pearson.
After a Middleton three-and-out, the Broncos struck again on a lightning-quick four-play drive, with Ramos scoring from 7 yards out for a 14-3 lead. Middleton responded with a long drive, but it stalled on downs in Blackfoot territory. The Broncos marched right back down the field, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run by Mitch Martin to make it 20-3.
Blackfoots three first-half scoring drives took a total of 17 plays. The only time the Broncos failed to score was on the final possession of the half and even then they drove the length of the field in less than a minute, missing a short field goal as time expired.
We executed really well, Blackfoot coach Stan Buck said. Our pass protection was good, our run blocking was great, and our kids at the skill positions made some great plays. They are fun to watch.
Blackfoot picked up right where it left off in the second half, marching 80 yards in five plays on its opening possession to make it 28-3. Middleton never seriously threatened the lead after that.
The electrifying Ramos led the Broncos, completing 10-of-14 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns while adding 82 yards and a TD on the ground. Pearson caught three passes for 139 yards, while Kyler Haddon rushed for 110 yards and a TD on just eight carries.
In all, Blackfoot racked up 567 yards of offense and averaged a mind-boggling 11.8 yards per play.
All of our hard work paid off, Ramos said. This is what weve been working for, and now that we have this state championship, were just going to celebrate it.
As the Blackfoot celebration echoed in the night, teary eyes and long embraces filled the Middleton locker room. In spite of all their accomplishments, Dias, Max Foote, Skyler Ellsworth and the rest of the senior class ends their careers without a state championship.
Its been amazing, Dias said. Everybody on this team loves each other and worked hard for each other. It does matter how it ended it hurts deep. But there is a deep pride in being a Viking right now. We made some history together.