Saturday Breakdown: Flyers lock up top seed, Thunder clinch No. 2

ST. GEORGE – It was a “Wow!” kind of night in the 3AA South Region.

Desert Hills had Pine View on the ropes, but let the Panthers rally to tie it, before the Thunder eventually ran away with the win. Dixie and Snow Canyon staged a shootout – for half a game. Then the Flyers defense and run game took over. And Cedar finally got its first region win – and the Redmen did it without star quarterback Mason Fakahua.

Wow!

Sports writers Darren Cole, Andy Griffin, Bob Hudson and Jordan Abel were at the games, along with photographers Robert Hoppie, Todd Ellis and Katina Young, plus videographer Dallas Griffin and our friends at CEC-TV, to bring us this Saturday Breakdown of all the action Friday night around the 3AA South. Here’s our report:

Dixie 48, Snow Canyon 21
Written by Andy Griffin
Photos by Todd Ellis
Video by Dallas Griffin

Dixie coach Andy Stokes wants his team to run the football. If he had his way, the Flyers would run 75 percent of the time. But the Flyers head man is also smart, and when he saw the Snow Canyon defense loading up the box Friday night, he knew running the ball just wasn’t going to work.

dixie-logosnow-canyon-logo“I love to run the football,” he said. “But when they came out in that box they had, we had to make some adjustments. (Running back) Ammon Ah Quin didn’t get the ball in the first half. In fact, he didn’t even get in the game that much because we went to five-receiver sets in the first half. But he kept his head up and kept his mind in the game and when it came his time, he turned the gas up.”

With Jacob Barben lighting the Snow Canyon defense up for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, and Dixie building a 35-21 lead, the Warriors had to start playing the pass. When they went to a three-man front with five defensive backs after halftime, that’s when Dixie turned to Ah Quin.

Ammon Ah Quin, Dixie at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Todd Ellis, St. George News
Ammon Ah Quin scores, Dixie at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Todd Ellis, St. George News

The Dixie sophomore running back had 60 rushing yards on eight touches before intermission. After halftime, Ah Quin was a workhorse, toting the rock 20 more times for 120 second-half yards.

“Ammon finished this one for us,” Stokes said. “One of his best attributes is his vision. And he’s got incredible feet. You pair those two up and you can fit through small windows. He does a good job of getting through little spots and getting sideways and keeping his balance.”

Along with getting good chunks of yardage, the Dixie rush game also served another purpose – it kept the Snow Canyon offense off the field.

“We got up 14-0 really fast and we got content and then we gave up some really cheap touchdowns,” Flyer defensive end Tyson Fisher said. “We shouldn’t have given those up. We shouldn’t be allowing 21 points in a half. At halftime we talked about last year. We had a lot of talent last year and we lost to these guys at home. We didn’t want to do that again. Ammon ran the ball well. He tore them up and that was really good.”

The Dixie D, led by a maniacal Fisher (three sacks, a forced fumble and a huge pressure on a fourth down play), shut Snow Canyon out in the second half.

Dixie at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Todd Ellis, St. George News
Dixie at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Todd Ellis, St. George News

“We weren’t trying to do too much on offense in the game, just take what they were giving,” said Dixie wide receiver Hobbs Nyberg. “In the second half, we were trying to help the defense out by using a lot of clock and holding on to the ball.”

The only TDs after intermission came in the fourth quarter. Dixie essentially clinched the win when Barben hit Nate Mahi on a short slant with 9:54 left in the game to make it 42-21. Three minutes later, Ah Quin scored his third TD of the game, this one from 7-yards out, to push the Dixie advantage to 48-21 and the two coaches then brought in some younger players to get some playing time.

With the win, Dixie has clinched the No. 1 seed from the region and a first-round bye in the playoffs. That fact is significant, but not sufficient for the Flyers.

SC's Chris Poulsen runs the ball, Dixie at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Todd Ellis, St. George News
SC’s Chris Poulsen runs the ball, Dixie at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Todd Ellis, St. George News

“Hey, that No. 1 seed is huge, no doubt about it,” Stokes said. “But we had to share the region title with Desert Hills last year, so our work is not done. There’s a lot of football left to play.”

The Flyers, who never trailed in the game (although SC pulled to within 14-7 and 21-14 in the first half), had 519 yards and an astounding 32 first downs in the game. Barben passed for 281 of those yards and ran for another 36. His favorite target in the passing game was Josh Topham, who had five catches for 95 yards and two TDs. Nyberg had six catches for 68 yards.

Snow Canyon got a career-best 300 yards passing from Matt Kitchen on 16 of 34 passes. He had two TDs to Tyson Deland, including one spectacular twisting grab in the end zone just before halftime from 30-yards out. Deland had 149 receiving yards on five grabs.

Dixie, 5-3 overall and 4-0 in region, and Snow Canyon, 3-5 and 1-3, both have byes next week. The Flyers finish the regular season Oct. 21 with a home game against the Hurricane Tigers. The Warriors close out the regular season with a roadie at Desert Hills on Oct. 21.

Stats: dixsc10716

Desert Hills 37, Pine View 19
Written by Darren Cole
Photos by Robert Hoppie
CEC-TV video edited by Dallas Griffin

Sometimes when you have a thoroughbred, the best thing to do is get on him and let him take you home.

And so it was with Desert Hills Friday night as the Thunder hopped on the mighty shoulders of star running back Nephi Sewell and rode the senior to victory.

desert-hills-logopine-view-logo“Our play calling usually depends on what the defense gives us, but with Nephi we get positive yardage no matter what they do,” said DH head coach Carl Franke. “It takes a swarm of defenders to bring him down.”

Sewell carried the ball 19 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers. He had six runs of more than 10 yards and three runs of more than 25 yards during the course of the game and averaged 11.2 yards per carry on the night.

“I had good blocking up front all night,” said Sewell. “We were able to execute better in the fourth quarter and finish drives.”

Desert Hills outscored Pine View 17-0 in that final 12-minute period, including a 21-yard run by quarterback Quinn Kiser (after a beautiful play-fake to Sewell) with 4:41 left that made it 29-19, and a 1-yard dive by Sewell with 1:31 on the clock to bring it to the final score of 37-19.

Desert Hills’ Nephi Sewell (2), Desert Hills vs. Pine View, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Nephi Sewell (2), Desert Hills vs. Pine View, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The offensive momentum swung the Thunder’s way early in the game. After an early Panther field goal by Connor Brooksby, Desert Hills ran off 19 straight points. The first six came late in the first quarter on a 12-yard run by Brock Parry on the left side. Early in the second, Sewell matched it with one of his own from 14-yards out.

Later in the first half, Parry added a touchdown reception that was set up by a 52-yard run by Sewell. With 5:41 left in the half, the Thunder lead was 19-3.

But Pine View did not go down without a fight. The Panther offense was able to answer on the ensuing drive as quarterback Ryan Javines drove Pine View 70 yards in three minutes. The last play of the drive was a 44-yard TD pass to Dylan Hendrickson. The two-point conversion failed and the score read 19-9 with 2:35 remaining in the half.

A Thunder penalty allowed Pine View to kick off from the DH 45-yard line. The Panthers took advantage and recovered an onside kick. Two plays later, Javines found Hendrickson again on the exact same pass pattern from 33 yards out. With the PAT, Pine View narrowed the gap to 19-16 before the teams went to the locker rooms.

Midway through the third quarter, Pine View got deep into Thunder territory when Javines found running back Jacob Mpungi on a 42-yard pass. The Desert Hills defense responded with two consecutive sacks, forcing Pine View to settle for a game-tying 30-yard field goal by Brooksby. With 1:42 left in the third, the Panthers had completed their comeback.

The rest of the game was all Thunder.

Desert Hills’ Brock Parry (21), Desert Hills vs. Pine View, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Brock Parry (21), Desert Hills vs. Pine View, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

After Desert Hills matched the PVHS field goal on its next possession to go up 22-19, Thunder safety Ryan Hoppie intercepted a Javines pass and returned the ball 28 yards deep into Pine View territory.

“I got beat twice in the first half,” said Hoppie. “At halftime, the coaches told me I was trying to do too much and to focus on my assignment. I made a good read on their tackle and then just read the quarterback’s eyes. The ball sailed over the receiver and I was able to catch it with momentum.”

Moments later, Kiser kept the ball on an option play and ran untouched 21 yards into the end zone to give the Thunder an important two-score bulge.

“Kiser made good reads most of the night,” said Franke.  “We have tried to simplify the game as much as possible for him. He has to make a lot of snap decisions.”

After another three-and-out by the Pine View offense, Sewell finished the ensuing Thunder 59-yard drive with a 1-yard dive to put the final nail in Pine View’s coffin with 1:31 remaining.

After gaining over 200 yards in the first half, Pine View could only muster 40 net yards against the Thunder defense in the second half.

Pine View's Jacob Mpungi (6), Desert Hills vs. Pine View, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Pine View’s Jacob Mpungi (6), Desert Hills vs. Pine View, Football, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Individually for Desert Hills, Kiser completed 12 of 21 for 133 yards passing. He connected with six different receivers. For Pine View Javines completed 18 of 36 for 259 yards.

The win elevates Desert Hills to 3-1 in region play and 6-2 overall. Pine View falls to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the 3AA South. The Panthers are in third place, a full game ahead of Cedar, Hurricane and Snow Canyon.

Both teams have a bye next week for the fall break. DH will host Snow Canyon on Oct. 21. PV will host Cedar that same night to close out the regular season.

The Thunder have clinched the No. 2 seed and will have a bye the first week of the 3AA playoffs. Pine View can clinch third and have a home game in the first round with a win against Cedar.

Stats: pvdh10716

Cedar 37, Hurricane 29
Written by Jordan Abel
Photos by Katina Young

The rushing attack was in full force Friday night between the Cedar and Hurricane High School football teams, as the Redmen made enough plays to get a 37-29 win on senior night.

Both teams were coming in battered and beaten with losing streaks, but Cedar finally was able to put a one in its 3AA South win column.

cedar-logohurricane-logoCedar head coach Josh Bennett was happy to finally get that first region win.

“It feels good to get the monkey off our back,” he said. “We came in on Monday and challenged the kids to get better and just prepare. We challenged people to step up. We had some guys down, and they did. This week I thought we had one of our best weeks of practice. That’s a test of their character, and tonight they came out and showed their true character and played a great game.”

Braden Garrett started at quarterback in place of the injured Mason Fakahua. He rushed for 104 yards and threw for 44 yards and a touchdown. He completed two of only three attempted passes.

“I figured I needed to step up and be a leader,” Garrett said. “I was kinda nervous, because it’s quarterback, but we’ve got a good team.”

Joe Armijo makes some tough yards in the first half, Hurricane vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Katina Young, for St. George News
Joe Armijo makes some tough yards in the first half, Hurricane vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Katina Young, for St. George News

Hurricane also helped play into the nearly complete running attack until it was deemed necessary to throw the ball because of time constraints. Cedar rushed for a total of 317 yards on the night, while the Tigers also rushed for 200 yards of their own. The game had 112 plays, with 77 of those being runs.

“It starts with our offensive line,” Bennett said. “If they can sustain blocks, it gives us a chance to win. Our running backs ran hard.”

The Tigers led 21-14 early in the third quarter after Jaron Cordova busted off a 63-yard TD run, his second long score of the night.

Cedar would score the next 23 points to gain control of the game. It started with a Trent Maurer TD run of 5 yards two minutes after Cordova’s score, tying the game at 21-21. After a Hurricane fumbe, Maurer scored again, this time from a yard out, to make it 28-21.

That’s when things got really interesting.

Brandon Johnson was able to get to Hurricane quarterback Josh Parker and force an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing punt kickoff, Cedar’s Luke Maggio was able to break free and score a 65-yard kick return touchdown to put Cedar up by 16 with just over eight minutes to go in the game.

Hurricane vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Katina Young, for St. George News
Hurricane vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Katina Young, for St. George News

“My blockers set it up perfect for me, and I just ran as fast as I could up the middle,” Maggio said. “As soon as I saw open space, I knew I was gone.”

Parker would get a score back as he hit Tobie Swenson on fourth down for a score, then found Jaron Cordova for the two-point conversion to make it 37-29 with 6:12 left in the game.

The Tigers got the ball back with four minutes to play, but turned it over on downs.

With the clock dwindling, Cedar looked like it was going to be able to kill the rest of the time. But Hurricane would have one last chance as the snap was fumbled with 52 seconds left and the Tigers recovered.

HHS got it to near midfield, but a Hail Mary as time expired was incomplete.

Cordova rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns on the night. His two touchdowns came on a 70-yard run and a 64-yard run straight through the teeth of the Cedar defense. Parker threw for 179 yards and the one touchdown. Joseph Armijo scored the first touchdown on a 5-yard run.

Hurricane vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Katina Young, for St. George News
Hurricane vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 7, 2016 | Photo by Katina Young, for St. George News

“(Cordova) is capable of having a night like that,” Hurricane head coach Steve Pearson said. “He had a night like that three weeks ago against Snow Canyon, and he had a really good night tonight as well. He picked up a lot of yards and ran really hard. I was really impressed with his breakaway speed tonight.”

Cedar’s duo of running backs both had big games also. Trenton Maurer rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns, while Travis Tait rushed for 95 yards. Tyler Barrick scored the first touchdown on a 13-yard run.

Cedar will travel to St. George to play Pine View Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.

“Anybody can beat anybody in this region, so we’ve just got to get ready for them,” Bennett said. “They’re another great team. We’ll have next week and the week after to prepare for them, and hopefully put ourselves in position for a good playoff spot. We’ve got a challenge. We’ve got to go down there. Our kids are up to the challenge.”

Hurricane will travel to Dixie to battle the top team in the region Oct. 21.

“They’re good at what they do offensively,” Pearson said. “They’ve got great skill kids. We’re gonna have to prepare for them the way we prepare for everyone else. They’re going to be hard to prepare for, but we handle it just like we do everyone else.”

Stats: hurced10716

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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