Passing game falters as Lions lose again to Wasatch in RMFL championship

Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

OGDEN – The Zion Lions have a ferocious running game, but when it got shut down Saturday night, they had no answer with the passing game.

Lions_logo_large (1)Revolution_logo_largeThe Wasatch Revolution defeated the Lions 30-21 to win the Rocky Mountain Football League championship at Weber State’s Stewart Stadium, the second straight title for the Rev. Wasatch beat the Dixie Rebels (Zion’s former name) 26-21 last season.

Lions defender Trey Smith (10) flips a Revolution ball carrier, Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Lions defender Trey Smith (10) flips a Revolution ball carrier, Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“It was definitely a frustrating night,” said Lions head coach Dale Stott. “Turnovers hurt us tonight and there’s not a lot you can do about that. But I’m still proud of our guys. They battled all year and they battled hard tonight.”

The Lions led several times in the game and held a 19-10 lead early in the third quarter after Misi Tupe found brother-in-law Dalton Groskreutz for a 15-yard TD pass to open the second half. But that was the last real highlight of the game for the Lions.

Wasatch responded with a 62-yard drive to make it 19-17 with 4:39 to go in the third quarter as former BYU quarterback Charlie Peterson found Bryant Eteuati for a 13-yard score.

Lei Angilau (32) fumbles a kickoff return, Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Lei Angilau (32) fumbles a kickoff return, Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The Lions got a nice kick return from Lei Angilau on the ensuing kickoff, but the return-man fumbled the ball away trying to make a little extra yardage on the play. The Revolution recovery led to a quick six points when Peterson went to Jordan Drage from 12-yards out to give Wasatch the lead. The two-point try was no good, but the Rev had a 22-19 lead with 2:39 to go in the third quarter.

After an exchange of punts, the lead grew to 24-19 when a snap on the punt went over Zion’s Rob Nadalsky’s head and out of the end zone. After a free kick, the Revolution put the game out of reach with a long drive and score. Peterson passed to Trevor Jensen from four yards away to up the lead to 30-19 with 6:26 to go and the Revolution were on their way to another title.

Dalton Groskreutz leaps for a pass, Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dalton Groskreutz leaps for a pass, Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution, Ogden, Utah, June 27 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“The second half we got in kind of a rhythm throwing the ball and the offensive line did a good job protecting me,” Peterson said. “We really needed to attack them a little bit harder than we did earlier this year. But we were also able to run the ball tonight and that was really the difference tonight.”

Peterson passed for 239 yards and four touchdowns, but the Revolution also ran for 140 yards, with the tandem of Jordan Jones (85 yards) and Zack Guerts (60) getting it done on a variety of draws and traps.

As for the Zion offense, with QB Misi Tupe nursing a sore groin injury, the passing game was not very good. Tupe hit just 7 of 25 passes for 82 yards. Most of his balls were overthrown.

“That’s the injury,” Stott said. “But he went out there and gave it his all. Misi Tupe is the best player in the league and he played his heart out.”

Tupe did rush for 104 yards, but the Lions were out-gained 379-271 in the game. It is the first time the 10-1 Lions have been out-gained.

Tupe was named the RMFL’s offensive MVP before the game, while Stott was named general manager of the year. Peterson was the league and championship game MVP.

The two teams have split their last four games, with the Lions winning the regular-season match-ups and the Revolution taking the playoff game.

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