ST. GEORGE – There was a lot of star power on display when Desert Hills and Dixie took the field for their first-place grudge match at Walt Brooks Stadium Friday night. Between Hobbs Nyberg, Nephi Sewell, Brock Parry, Jacob Barben and the emerging Ammon Ah Quin, big plays were happening all over the field.
In the end, Dixie staked its claim to the 3AA South title with a nine-point win. But this is a story that may likely be concluded on the Rice-Eccles turf in November.
As for the other two region games, Pine View and Snow Canyon had their own stars come out in a pair of critical victories for those two programs. The Panthers got their win in blowout fashion at Hurricane, while the Warriors just squeaked out a close win over visiting Cedar High.
Photographers Robert Hoppie, Todd Ellis and Kevin Luthy, writers Bob Hudson, Darren Cole and Andy Griffin and videographer Dallas Griffin (plus our friends at CEC-TV), hit the road to bring readers the absolute best coverage of the 3AA South.
Here’s our report:
Dixie 31, Desert Hills 22
Written by Darren Cole
Photos by Robert Hoppie
The battle for 3AA South supremacy did not disappoint those lucky enough to see the game.
For the second week in a row, the Dixie defense faced a 3AA South preseason co-player of the year. Nephi Sewell was good for at least 5 yards whenever he touched the ball, but the Flyers did not let him break loose for any big plays.
“He is a very talented player,” said Dixie head coach Andy Stokes. “Again, Coach (Wayne) Alofipo had a great game plan and our defensive front seven rose to the challenge against arguably one of the best offensive lines in the state.”
Defensive end Tyson Fisher went against heralded lineman Penei Sewell.
“All the stuff they say about him,” said Fisher. “It’s not hype.” But it was Fisher that drew the highlights in the second half. After recovering an earlier crucial fumble that set up Dixie’s final score, Fisher would later record two sacks, a hurry, and an uncredited assist on another sack when he forced the Thunder quarterback to pull back his throw only to be sacked by Magalei Stevenson.
“He’s a beast,” said Flyer defensive team captain Malaki Fakahua. “We know that when we force the opposing offense into passing situations that Tyson will exact some punishment.”
On one play, the Thunder set up a screen pass to Fisher’s side of the ball. But his quickness to Quinn Kiser did not allow the quarterback to set up for the throw.
“The tackle let me go,” said Fisher. “I just went as quick as I could, knowing that if he did get the throw off that my linebackers were behind me.”
In the first half, it was the Dixie offense that was making the big plays. Quarterback Jacob Barben was just shy of 200 yards passing at halftime. And 150 of those yards came on three touchdown passes to Hobbs Nyberg.
“This is my first year at quarterback,” said Barben. “It is nice to have someone like Hobbs who can turn my passes into big plays.”
Characteristic of that was a long pass with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. Barben was forced to scramble to his left and then heaved a pass 40 yards in the air. Nyberg had a step on Nephi Sewell and Ryan Hoppie, but the pass was under-thrown. Nyberg reversed momentum and stepped in front of the two defenders, made the catch, pivoted to his left and outraced them to the end zone for his third touchdown of the game.
“I saw that it was under-thrown,” said Nyberg. “I was just running back to knock it down and prevent the interception. I ended up catching it. When I turned, I think they were surprised that I had the ball. They thought I had knocked it down. So that brief instant allowed me to get a head start on them to the end zone.”
Dixie started the game on a sustained drive that went 60 yards and took six minutes off the clock. The drive ended in Nyberg’s first TD catch of 13 yards.
“We wanted to come out and establish the run,” said Stokes. “We wanted to control the clock and keep their offensive playmakers, Nephi Sewell and Brock Parry, off the field.”
On Desert Hills’ ensuing possession, critical penalties stalled the drive and the Thunder were forced to punt. The Flyers took over at their 20-yard line. After a 4-yard run by Ah Quin, Barben found Nyberg behind his man on a post route. The 76-yard catch and run gave Dixie the early 14-0 lead.
Desert Hills took over its next possession at the 37-yard line. It took the Thunder only eight plays to go the 63-yard distance. Nephi Sewell carried the ball five times for 56 yards, the final 10 coming on his run off right tackle into the end zone. With the PAT the lead was halved, 14-7.
After Nyberg’s third touchdown, the Thunder did not take much time to respond. After returning the kickoff to their 40-yard line, Parry took the handoff and ran around the right end up the Desert Hills sideline 60 yards for the immediate score. The snap went awry on the PAT and Thunder holder Kobe Sattiewhite turned the miscue into two points with the dive into the end zone. With 5:23 remaining in the first half, the score was 21-15.
On Dixie’s last possession of the half, Barben found wide receiver Nate Mahi in the back of the end zone for the score. But a holding penalty wiped the touchdown away and Stokes and the Fyers had to settle for a 41-yard Thayne Reid field goal to close out the scoring in the half. At intermission, the lead was 24-15.
The Thunder opened the second half with an eight-play, 56-yard drive. Nephi Sewell got his second touchdown of the day with a 13-yard run. With the PAT, the lead was cut to 24-22.
The Thunder defense held and forced a punt. But the punt was a doozy, sailing 40 yards and rolling another 12 down to the Thunder 8-yard line. On a third-and-1 at the Desert Hills 17-yard line, the Thunder direct snap to the motion man was mishandled. Fisher recovered the ball and the Flyers were in the red zone. Four straight carries from Ah Quin produced the touchdown and the Flyers went up again by two scores, 31-22.
A “roughing the kicker” penalty that was enforced on the kickoff allowed Reid to boot the ball into the end zone and force the Thunder to start at their 20-yard line, their worst starting field position of the night after kickoff.
The next Desert Hills possession saw the Fisher heroics and eventually ended in a turnover on downs. Dixie was able to get a first down and ran off crucial time before turning the ball back over on downs in Thunder territory. Desert Hills took over with 34 seconds left, but was unable to produce any more points.
With the win, Dixie takes sole possession of first place in the 3AA South with a 3-0 record and a 4-3 record overall. The Flyers will travel to Snow Canyon next week.
Desert Hills had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Thunder fall to 2-1 in region and 5-2 overall. The Thunder will host Pine View next week.
Pine View 49, Hurricane 19
Written by Andy Griffin
Photos by Kevin Luthy
Video by Dallas Griffin
What can someone do in a minute? Microwave a burrito? Write a thank you card? Post a photo on Facebook?
That’s how much game time it took Pine View — from 6:09 to 5:08 of the third quarter — to turn an intense 21-12 contest into a 42-12 runaway.
“It’s hard to defend Hurricane because you only see that offense once a year,” PV coach Ray Hosner said. “But Tyler Heaton and Christian Reis were able to control the middle on defense and stop their trap, which made Hurricane go to the passing game and then we were able to get some turnovers off of that.”
It also helped that Pine View had a red-hot quarterback in Ryan Javines. The junior signal-caller passed for 188 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 77 more yards and a score. He also had no turnovers in the game.
“We’ve been working really hard in practice and I felt a lot more comfortable this week,” Javines said. “I felt more confident, too. We made some adjustments at halftime and I had some good open receivers.”
Hurricane got first-quarter scores from Jaron Cordova and Tobie Swenson and led 12-7 until midway through the second quarter. Javines led a drive to regain the lead, hitting Michael Moten on a 36-yard strike and finishing the drive with a 5-yard pass to Dylan Hendrickson, making it 14-12 with 6:31 to go in the first half.
The Panthers then pushed the lead to 21-12 after Moten returned a punt 36 yards deep into Hurricane territory. A three-play drive covered the final 30 yards, with Javines covering the final 15 by himself with 3:45 left in the half.
And then came the third quarter.
After a Hurricane punt was partially blocked, Javines hit Daniel Larsen with a 22-yard TD to make it 28-12 with 6:09 left in the third.
On the extra point, which made it 28-12, HHS was called for roughing the kicker and then got an additional penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The 30 yards in penalties put the ball at the Hurricane 30-yard line for the kickoff.
“I have never seen that in all my years in football,” Hosner said. “But I was glad I did, because we got to try our onside kick.”
It worked as the Panthers recovered at the Hurricane 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Javines found skeeter-bug receiver Lance Mandrigues, who scooted 25 yards for a score, making it 35-12 with 5:52 left in the third.
On Hurricane’s next offensive play, Hendrickson picked off HHS’s Josh Parker, setting the Panthers up at the Tiger 47-yard line. The next play was a thing of beauty as Javines sent Jacob Mpungi in motion and then hit the running back in stride for a 47-yard TD pass.
That was 21 points in 61 seconds on a total of five plays from scrimmage.
“We felt like they were getting tired, so we just kept grinding and grinding,” Hendrickson said. “We really wanted to get after them tonight. They got us last year and this was one we really wanted to win.”
Mpungi scored his third TD of the night early in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring for PV. Both coaches substituted liberally the rest of the way.
“This week we really focused on not only getting our blocks, but also helping at the next level,” Heaton said. “Our line really stepped up tonight. We were ready with our blitz pickup and making sure we kept the quarterback upright, too.”
The Panthers had 399 yards of offense, with Mpungi rushing for 110 of those yards. Mpungi also had 67 receiving yards and Javines connected with six different receivers.
Pine View also was able to play mostly man coverage on the wideouts of Hurricane, with Hendrickson and D’Angelo Mpungi not allowing a deep ball the entire game.
The Panthers, 6-1 and 2-1, have a big one next week with a road game against Desert Hills. The winner will likely get a bye in the first week of the 3AA playoffs.
The Tigers, 3-4 and 1-2, will travel to Cedar next week.
Snow Canyon 17, Cedar 14
Written by Bob Hudson
Photos by Todd Ellis
Kolton Barber got two chances to kick the game-winning field goal in Snow Canyon’s close victory Friday night.
The win was the Warriors’ first in league play after two six-point losses.
“The snap on the first one was a little off,” Barber continued. “But we had good timing at the end. It felt good. It feels good to go the last inch and finish it off in our favor.”
Matt Kitchen had his best as a quarterback for Snow Canyon, passing for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Nowatzke caught 10 passes for 79 yards and an 8-yard touchdown. Brooks Sampson caught three for 51 yards and an 18-yard touchdown for the Warriors (1-2, 3-4). Barber added both extra points.
“It wasn’t pretty,” said SC coach Mike Esplin. “But against Cedar, that’s a big win.”
Snow Canyon started quickly, marching 60 yards in 14 plays on its first possession. Kitchen hit Nowatzke for 8 yards and the touchdown with five minutes left in the first quarter. Kitchen hit seven passes, the longest 14 yards, on the drive.
Cedar answered on the first play of the second quarter as quarterback Mason Fakahua ran 37 yards for the touchdown. That completed a 64-yard drive that took four plays. Blake White-Schreibman added the point-after.
One of the biggest plays of the game occurred with about four minutes left in the second quarter.
Starting from its own 20, Cedar (0-3, 3-4) marched 79 yards in 10 plays. But Redmen running back Trenton Maurer fumbled into the end zone as he tried to score from the 1-yard line and the Warriors pounced on the loose ball to end the scoring threat. Alex Kennedy came up with the pigskin.
Snow Canyon went ahead 14-7 with 56 seconds left in the second on Sampson’s 18-yard catch, capping a 40-yard drive that took just three plays.
The Warriors’ defense was stingy throughout the second half, but couldn’t stop the Redmen from scoring after Jade Bulloch intercepted Kitchen at the Warrior 17. Fakahua hit Derek Ball for the score on the next play to tie the game at 14-14 with 3:59 left in the third quarter.
After Barber’s missed field goal in the final quarter, that Warrior defense forced Cedar into a three-and-out. Snow Canyon then marched from the Cedar 42 to the Redmen 6 before stalling.
Barber then trotted on the field for the potential go-ahead kick. As he noted, everything worked well and he gave his team some breathing room with a boot that split the uprights right down the middle.
Cedar made things interesting, however, moving from its 19 to the SC 17 in seven plays. Braden Garrett had a 25-yard run on an end-around during the drive.
But on the next two plays, the Warriors’ Britton Webster had a tackle for loss and Jayden Lacayo had a sack to leave White-Schreibman with a 42-yard field goal attempt to potentially send the game into overtime. His kick had the distance, but was wide left. Snow Canyon killed the clock from there, the Warriors recording just their third region win in as many years.
Cedar had a slight total offense edge, 320-309, outgaining SC 169-74 on the ground.
Fakahua rushed for 96 yards on eight carries. Braden Garrett had six carries for 42 yards. Chris Poulsen had 23 carries for 60 yards to pace the Warriors’ rushing attack.
Britton Webster led Snow Canyon’s defense with 10 tackles. Kaleb Gates had six and Wyatt Parry had 4 1/2. The Warriors were 8 for 18 on third downs and went for it on fourth down twice, making it both times.
SC, now tied with Hurricane for fourth place in the region, will host first-place Dixie next Friday night. It will be senior night for the Warriors.
Cedar, which was picked to finish second by the media and coaches before the season, drops to 0-3 in region and will finish out the regular season with with a home game against Hurricane next week and then a road trip to Pine View on Oct. 21.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.