KETCHUM — Balanced offense and a tenacious defense carried the Commerce Tigers to a 21-0 shutout over the Ketchum Warriors Friday night in a District 2A-8 opener.
With the victory coach Steve Moss’ Tigers are 3-1 on the season while the Warriors are 0-4 on the year. The Tigers continue defense of their district crown Friday with a 7 p.m. contest at Colcord.
“We want to build on the way we played the second half of this game,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said. “Colcord is a top 10 ranked program and they’ll be tough to play at their place.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers received a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Parker Morgan with 3:42 left until halftime. The extra point kick sailed wide right as the Tigers carried a 6-0 lead to the locker room at halftime.
“It took us a little while to get started,” Moss said. “Not only was the first quarter pretty sloppy with a couple of muffed punt returns, but we only had the ball for one, three-play series during the entire first quarter.”
Neither team reached the endzone in the third quarter, although the Tigers mounted a scoring drive with time winding down.
Just six seconds into the fourth quarter the Tigers reached pay-dirt again as senior quarterback Braden Smith found junior tight end Jerrod KIrtley open for a 7-yard TD pass. Smith scored the two-point conversion run to create a 14-0 Commerce lead.
The Smith-to-KIrtley combo clicked again with time running out for a 22-yard touchdown pass play. Kirtley kicked the extra point with 1:08 remaining in the game.
Commerce generated 255 yards in total offense as Smith led the ground game with 93 yards on 15 carries. He also completed 6 of 11 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Morgan contributed 39 yards on 15 carries and one TD for the Tigers while DC Chance added 22 yards on six carries.
Kirtley caught four passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns for Commerce while Diego Ybarra added two receptions for 28 yards.
“I was pleased with the balance we had on offense,” Moss said. “Ideally, we’d like to have a 50-50 ratio run-to-pass, but this worked out for us.”
Defensively, the Tigers received an interception by Blake Jameson and a fumble recovery by Tyson Howard.
Starting at a safety spot, Smith paced the Tigers defense with two unassisted tackles and 16 assists. Senior linebacker Marco Sierra contributed two solo tackles and 11 assists while sophomore cornerback Tyson Howard added two unassisted tackles and nine assists.
“Our defense played great the whole game,” Moss said. “Anytime you hold the opposition to just 60 total yards in offense you’re doing something right.
“They only had one 20-yard run the entire game,” Moss said. “We played ‘lights out’ and had no breakdowns all night.”