ST. GEORGE – The Zion Lions met an old rival they had not seen in many years. The Logan Stampede came to town and were quickly distanced from any hope of victory as the Lions put up 35 first-half points en route to a 49-6 victory.
The Stampede were in the league for six years before dissolving briefly, reemerging in the RMFL’s AA classification in 2013, then jumping back to AAA last year.
The Stampede started on offense. After a return to the 23 the Lion defense immediately had them going the other way. Four plays later they punted from their own 3-yard line. The Lions took their first offensive possession on the Stampede 42-yard line. It took Lion quarterback Misioala Tupe nine plays to guide Zion down the field. With 7:12 remaining in the opening quarter, he hit wide receiver Viliami Hafoka on a 7-yard out for six points.
On Logan’s next possession, linebacker Doug Roberts stepped in front of a Michael Jenkins pass for his first interception of the year.
“Doug normally plays on the defensive line,” said Zion head coach Dale Stott. “Today we had to move him back because of some players out and he stepped up and made some big plays.”
The Lions rode their big tailback, Sione Tapuosi, to the end zone. His 11-yard touchdown run put the Lions up 14-0 with less than eight minutes elapsed in the first quarter.
After another Stampede punt, the Zion offense again took advantage. Tupe got his second touchdown pass with a 20-yard strike to tight end Jordan Loo.
After the Lion defense forced another Logan punt, the Zion offense took over at its own 48-yard line. Four plays later, Tapuosi had his second touchdown, punching it in from 3 yards out.
“Sione Tapuosi had a great game today,” said Stott. “With our offensive line and his downhill running style, he picks up large chunks of yardage with each carry.”
With 4:52 remaining in the half Zion led 28-0.
On the Stampede’s next possession, Jenkins was intercepted again, this time by the speedy free safety Ryne Wall. Wall cut left and sprinted the 28 yards to the end zone and took a giant leap over the goal line. With 2:48 to play in the half, the lead had grown to 35-0.
Lion cornerback Trey Smith thwarted Logan’s last attempt to score in the half when he intercepted Jenkins for the third time in the Stampede end zone.
After the half, Smith took the kickoff at the 10-yard line, darted straight up field, made two different cuts, then pranced the remainder of the way to the end zone for the first kickoff return for touchdown in franchise history.
“We have great return guys,” said Stott. “Trey almost broke his interception return for touchdown just before halftime. He got some great blocking and made some good cuts.”
With less than 20 seconds gone in the second half, the Lion lead was 42-0.
After one more possession with the Zion starting offense, Stott put in the reserves. Tapuosi got his third touchdown at the end of the third quarter capping an eight play, 66-yard drive directed by backup quarterback Rob Nadalsky.
Logan finally got on the board on its first possession of the fourth quarter. Jenkins drove the ball 74 yards on 10 plays. On fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, Jenkins handed the ball to wide receiver Marshall Hedin. Hedin swept left, pulled up in front of the Lion defenders and threw to a wide open receiver Jake Green in the deep left corner of the end zone. The two-point run failed, but Logan prevented the shutout and trailed 49-6.
Neither team would score the remainder of the game. For the Stampede, Jenkins completed 21 of 37 passes for 149 yards. Tupe completed 9 of 15 for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Nadalsky completed four of six for 73 yards. Nadalsky was also seven for seven on PATs.
Tapuosi led all rushers with 125 yards on 15 carries. Hafoka caught four passes for 55 yards. Loo had three catches for 53 yards.
For Logan, Jesse Yarger and Nick Blackmon caught seven and six passes respectively for 74 and 40 yards.
The Lions improve to 6-0, 5-0 in the RMFL. The Stampede drop to 1-3. The Lions will take on the Arco Anarchy next week at the Sunbowl. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.