Preston RB Charles Iverson (copy)

Preston running back Charles Iverson, left, churns his legs as a diving Matt Christensen tries to bring him down during a game between Preston and Pocatello earlier this season.

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It was a rough ending to an otherwise very encouraging season for Preston's football program.

No. 8 Shelley went on a 36-0 run spanning the second and fourth quarters and rolled to a 36-13 victory over No. 9 Preston in the opening round of the 4A State Championships on Friday night in Shelley, Idaho. This was the only time this season the Indians lost by more than 10 points.

The two teams squared off back on Aug. 27 in Preston and the Russets (7-3) beat the Indians (6-4) in a much closer game, 15-6. Despite Friday's setback, Preston still recorded its first winning record since going 7-3 in 2010.

"It was definitely an encouraging season, not just on the field, but off the field with a great group of players, a great group of young men to work with," PHS head coach Eric Thorson said. "And they won some tough games, they learned a lot of lessons through the season and it was a very memorable season. Obviously, we didn't play our best tonight, but that won't define all the great things and memories of this season."

Preston got off to a good start as it held Shelley scoreless in the first quarter, plus found paydirt on its second possession of the contest, when Brecker Knapp found Emery Thorson for a 21-yard touchdown pass.

The Russets got their vaunted rushing attack on track in the second quarter, though, as Kaden Kidman found the end zone three times with his feet. Ryker Clinger chipped in with a pair of short TD runs for Shelley in the second half.

"Yeah, they're definitely a strong running team and they've got some good schemes," coach Thorson said. "... Hats off to them. They played very solid tonight."

Preston scored its second touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 45-yard strike from Knapp to Tyler Lindhardt.

The Indians have excelled at getting turnovers throughout much of the season, but didn't have any takeaways Friday. Conversely, Shelley intercepted a pair of passes --- the first one to terminate a promising Preston drive --- and recovered a fumble at the visitors' 5-yard line. That giveaway led to an easy Shelley score.

Knapp completed 22 of 38 passes for 221 for Preston, which got 83 yards receiving from Lindhardt and 72 yards from Chevy Nelson. Charles Iverson racked up 85 yards on 11 rushing attempts for the Indians, while Emery Thorson contributed with 46 yards on the ground and another 45 through the air.

Emery Thorson finished with a team-high 10 tackles for Preston, which got eight tackles from Iverson and seven apiece from Ashton Madsen, Rhett Larson and Cord Evanson.

"This was a great team and it was an exciting season," said coach Thorson, whose squad won three games by one point this season and two more by seven points or fewer. "Hopefully, we build from here."

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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