MERIDIAN It was an odd choice of color, but the green-and-gold fireworks signaled a Rocky Mountain victory just the same.
Senior quarterback Riley Bradshaw took a knee just as the fireworks began, and a rush of black and purple stormed the field to celebrate Rocky Mountains 36-21 win against Eagle in the 5A state quarterfinals Friday night at Brighton Stadium.
Rocky Mountain (10-1) now faces unbeaten and top-ranked Highland (10-0) in a semifinal next week in Pocatello. It is the first state semifinal appearance for the Grizzles since 2010.
I am excited to go play Highland. I think we have a good chance to win it, Bradshaw said. I think were all excited to go there and have a chance to upset them and be in the state championship with a win.
Bradshaw kept Rocky Mountains league-leading offense running at full speed, completing 13-of-21 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown with another 103 yards on the ground.
But it was Rocky Mountains defense that put the game away.
The Grizzlies led 22-21 at halftime, thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run from sophomore Jake Roper with 25 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Eagle made four pass attempts at a last-second score, the last of which was reeled in by Rocky Mountain defensive back Isaiah Johnson.
The play got the Rocky defense rolling.
We definitely had a lot more emotion in the second half, said Rocky Mountain strong safety Khalil Oliver, a Boise State commit. There was tons of emotion on the field. We came out fired up. We have the quietest kids on our defensive line, but they were screaming their heads off ready to go every single time out there.
Starting D-linemen Isaac Reyna, Ozzy Carlson, JJ Romijn, Sean Fitzgerald and Mitch Cottle held the Mustangs scoreless in the second half. Eagles offense got no further than the Rocky 36-yard line over the final two quarters.
We needed to hold them because it was such a close game the first half, said Carlson, who was playing with a cast on his broken right wrist. The team needed us to step up and we did, and the offense took care of the rest.
Roper and fellow running back Jason Crimmins each scored on 1-yard runs in the third quarter. The pair combined for 108 yards and four of Rocky Mountains five touchdowns.
Senior quarterback J.T. Williams who has verbally committed to play baseball for the University of Washington led the Mustangs with 189 rushing yards, including a 70-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Williams also passed for 62 yards and another TD.
I think we went into the ballgame believing we could win. At halftime we were believing we could still do this, Eagle coach Paul Peterson said. But the second half getting stopped on fourth down on the first drive, having a couple quick three-and-outs, we just didnt make any plays offensively in the second half.
But I am really proud of my guys. I talked to them before the ballgame about being a good man, and I think my group represented the town of Eagle and Eagle High School the way it is supposed to be represented: with class. We just didnt make enough plays.