PAYSON – Snow Canyon racked up 535 total yards, mostly on the ground, to come away with a 3AA South 35-24 road win in an offensive shootout against the Payson Lions Friday night.
The Warriors struck first with two touchdowns from Zach Kennedy. The first was a 54-yard run on the first possession of the game. Kennedy followed up with a 17-yard run with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We gave them a heavy dose of Zach Kennedy early,” said Snow Canyon Coach Marcus Matua. “Their defense then keyed on him and that opened the door wide open for Connor Parry, especially on the outside runs.”
Jake Frei started at quarterback for the Warriors as Warner Rigby will be out for 4-6 weeks with a broken fibula.
“We hope to have him back by playoff time,” Matua said. “But Jake Frei stepped up and performed as we expected. He comes with a different skill set. Jake is a better passer, while Warner is more athletic. But in terms of running the offense, they are interchangeable.”
Frei connected with Nate Gottfredson in the second quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-6.
Smith threw for a second touchdown to begin scoring in the second half to receiver Brody Adams from six yards out. The two-point conversion failed and Payson trailed 21-12 at the 6:46 mark of the third quarter.
Snow Canyon would answer with a 15-yard Trevor Horlacher touchdown run at the 5:22 mark of the third quarter to increase the lead to 28-12. On the first play of the next possession however, Smith hit Little again for a 65-yard touchdown pass. The conversion failed again, but Payson pulled to within ten, 28-18. Payson made the game even more interesting by holding the Warriors on their next possession and capitalizing with a 1-yard touchdown run by Kyle Moffat. The conversion failed again, but the Lions were within striking distance down only 28-24.
On Snow Canyon’s final drive of the game, Matua replaced Frei with Parry at quarterback.
“Jake was playing well, but inserting Parry added some speed that Payson had trouble containing on the outside,” said Matua.
The Warriors were able to run clock and get some breathing room with the final touchdown of the game coming on a 1-yard plunge from Parry with 3:26 left to play.
“Our defense actually played well despite the scoring,” said Matua. “Our middle linebackers, Horlacher and Brady Sargent, were tremendous. Our defensive backs made correct reads. It was just a matter of their receivers out-executing the coverage.”
Parry carried the ball 26 times for 238 yards while Kennedy had 122 yards on 10 carries. Payson’s Easton Smith passed for 355 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
The victory moves Snow Canyon to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in region,while Payson dropped to 1-5 and 0-3.
Next week, the Warriors will continue 3AA South Region play with an away game at Hurricane. Payson will host Bear River in a non-region game.
Stats: SC 35, Payson 24
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