By Scott McIntosh
For the Kuna Melba News
Skyview’s well-balanced offense chipped away methodically at Kuna’s defense, while Kuna’s offense struggled to find a rhythm.
That was the story in the Kuna varsity football team’s 24-10 road loss on Friday to a solid Skyview team.
Following a resounding 50-13 victory over Nampa in the conference opener the week before, Kuna faced a much tougher challenge from Skyview.
“Our defense played their hearts out tonight,” Kuna head coach Lee Leslie said after the game. “Our offensive line got beat. … They put pressure on us and we didn’t respond.”
Kuna’s defense started on a high note, holding Skyview to a three-and-out, and Skyview’s punter kicked the ball into the offensive line, giving Kuna a golden opportunity on Skyview’s 20. But Skyview’s defense and a holding call pushed Kuna back to the 31 on 4th and 21. Kuna quarterback Kayden Votroubek came close to a first down but not close enough, giving Skyview the ball back on downs.
Skyview then marched downfield 90 yards behind the running game of running back Jaxon Pryor and the passing game of quarterback Anthony Marin, who was playing in his first game back in the lineup from an injury. An 11-yard touchdown pass completed the drive and put Skyview up 7-0 at 2:41 in the first.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Kuna’s Tristan Youngblood ran back the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to Skyview’s five-yard line. Two plays later, Spencer Trautman ran it in from 3 yards for a touchdown, and Kuna kicker Stone Wilson’s extra point tied it at 7 less than a minute after Skyview’s touchdown.
After trading a couple of punts, Skyview put together another impressive drive a couple of yards at a time, getting as far as Kuna’s 4-yard line. But a penalty and defensive pressure by Dustyn Beaman pushed Skyview back, and Skyview settled for a 35-yard field goal to make it 10-7 with just five minutes left in the half.
After two more punts, Kuna got the ball back at their own 29 with 2 minutes left in the half. That drive included a fake punt that Trautman ran for 15 yards into Skyview territory. Passes to Steven Doughty and Trautman and a face mask penalty put Kuna on Skyview’s 12-yard line with under a minute. Two stopped runs and an incomplete pass put Wilson back on the field for a 22-yard field goal and a 10-10 tie at the half.
In the second half, neither Kuna’s running game nor passing game could get anything going, and Skyview’s patient offensive game wore down Kuna’s defense for two more touchdowns in the second half. After a tackle in the backfield by Jorge Garcilazo and a batted down pass in the end zone by Jade Palmer, Skyview lined up for a field goal on Kuna’s 11. The holder bobbled the snap, picked it up and ran with it in what appeared to be a broken play. But he found wide receiver Joe Miller in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and a 16-10 lead after the extra point missed.
An interception gave Skyview the ball back on Kuna’s 44, and a trick play — a reverse handoff and a pass — led to another touchdown and a 24-10 lead after a 2-point conversion with 3:22 left in the third quarter.
Kuna would come close again on the next drive that included a 4th-and-9 pass to Palmer to Skyview’s 10-yard line, but a fumbled pitch gave Skyview the ball back.
Huge defensive plays by the likes of Doughty, Garcilazo, Beaman, Austin Silsby and Cody Cardoza kept Skyview from scoring again, but another interception and poor protection kept Kuna’s offense off the field for much of the rest of the game.
“We’ve got a few more things to get better at,” Leslie said. “We’ve gotta give Kayden better protection. When he catches on fire he’s amazing. We just have to let him catch on fire.”
Trautman still had a solid game, running for 62 yards on 14 carries for one touchdown and catching four passes for 73 yards. Votroubek went 9-for-24 and 139 yards, with three interceptions.
The Kavemen (1-1) faces Middleton (2-0) at home at 7 p.m. this Friday. Middleton is coming off a 44-0 win over Caldwell last week. Still to come is next week’s matchup against Leslie’s former team at Bishop Kelly at BK on Sept. 21.