3AA Playoffs: Confident Desert Hills rolls over Stansbury

Desert Hills' Quinn Kiser (5) scores a second half touchdown, Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – For the second straight week, Desert Hills was nearly unstoppable on offense and this time, it has the Thunder punching their ticket into the state championship.

Desert Hills racked up 498 yards of offense and averaged 9.1 yards per play in rolling to a 49-14 win over Stansbury in the 3AA Semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

desert-hills-logostansbury-logo“We have a lot of confidence right now,” said Thunder running back Nephi Sewell. “As long we are confident and execute, we know that we’ll get the job done and I think the team is at a good place right now.”

Stansbury started the game with a quick score after a middle screen pass from Mitch McIntyre to Casey Roberts exploded into a 60-yard touchdown just two minutes into the game. It was a fleeting celebration for the Stallions for two reasons. First, the extra point was blocked by Desert Hills, leaving the score at 6-0.

Then, D-Hills grabbed ahold of the game and did not let go. Over the next 22 minutes of game time, the Thunder raced up and down the field almost unabated, scoring 35 points by halftime and accumulating 304 yards in the first half.

Desert Hills' Nephi Sewell (2), Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Nephi Sewell (2), Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“You know, it comes from everybody else and them doing their jobs,” said DH quarterback Quinn Kiser. “It takes a lot of pressure off myself, and I love the blocks we are getting. We get a little play-action going and our receivers (are) wide open. Everything is just working our way and I am excited.”

Desert Hills scored on five separate drives in the first half, none of which took more than 2 1/2 minutes to complete. Sewell got it started with a 21-yard run that capped a five play, 63-yard scoring march which lasted just 1:57. The TD, with 7:29 on the clock, made it 7-6 with Logan Callister’s extra point.

After a Stansbury punt and a 21-yard Logan Hokanson return, the Thunder struck again. Brock Parry had back-to-back rushes to net 26 yards and the junior running back took it in from 3-yards out to make it 14-6 with 3:22 to go in the first quarter.

And Desert Hills was just getting warmed up.

McCoy Diderickson scored on a 27-yard run for Stansbury and also ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game up with 1:18 left in the first. But, as it turns out, that would be the last score of the game for the Stallions.

As for the Thunder, they began a run of 35 straight points that would turn the game into a laugher. Sewell scored again, this time on a 4-yarder, to make it 21-14. The TD was set up by a 70-yard fly pattern pass from Kiser to Hokanson, who was caught just before he could score. The TD came with 11 seconds left in the quarter and was a sign of things to come.

Desert Hills' Brock Parry (21) scores a first half touchdown, Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Brock Parry (21) scores a first half touchdown, Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

After a 4-yard (!) Stansbury punt, Sewell scored his third TD of the night on a 28-yard scamper around the left side, which came with 9:18 to go in the second quarter and made it 28-14. The DH defense, perhaps inspired by the ultra-efficient Thunder offense, got another three-and-out, giving Desert Hills the ball at its 28-yard line with 7:20 left in the half.

This time, Sewell got to watch as Kiser performed a play-action fake and found a wide open Marco Jordan for a 72-yard touchdown. The 12-second drive put the score at 35-14 and was the easiest score of the night.

“We ran a lot of fly sweeps and I was blocking my guy pretty well on every fly sweep and he started cheating down,” Jordan said. “So I told coach he was cheating down every time we run fly-sweep, so I am just going to sneak behind him and block and release then I’ll be wide open and that’s what happened.”

Kiser said all he wanted to do was make sure to get the ball to his open teammate.

“Even if you’re the best quarterback in the league, that’s one of the hardest throws to make because you just got to get it to him,” he said. “It was an outstanding play call and Marco was where he was supposed to be and I got him the ball.”

Facing a 35-14 deficit and having to kickoff to start the second half, Stansbury’s only hope was to get a stop out of halftime. It didn’t happen.

The Thunder marched 79 yards in just five plays to make it 42-14 and crush any hope the Stallions had of a comeback. Jordan rushed for a 35-yard fly sweep and also caught a 19-yard swing pass from Kiser to reach the end zone with 9:25 to go in the third quarter. Kiser added a 4-yard TD run in the fourth to cap the scoring and the Thunder forced two turnovers in the second half to help keep Stansbury off the board.

Desert Hills' Bo Barben (13), Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Desert Hills’ Bo Barben (13), Desert Hills vs. Stansbury, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 10, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“It definitely starts up front with the O-line,” Sewell said. “I can’t stress enough that it starts with them and people may not see it, but it definitely starts with them. Those 5 or 6 when we go heavy are definitely the best offensive linemen I could ask for. They don’t get enough credit.”

Desert Hills, 9-2, reaches the state championship game for the first time since 2013, when the Thunder defeated Pine View on the last play of the game for the school’s only state championship in football.

The Thunder are on a four-game winning streak since a region loss to Dixie back on Sept. 30. Since then, Desert Hills is averaging 41.5 points per game and won the four games by an average of 22.8 points per game.

“Something clicked the week after Snow Canyon and I don’t know what it was and it wasn’t anything I said, but for some reason something clicked,” DH coach Carl Franke said. “I think what it was is that they finally figured out the type of players they actually are and they felt like they hadn’t tapped into their potential. I think right now they have confidence in each other and that is the big thing.”

D-Hills will play the winner of Friday’s Dixie-Pine View 3AA Semifinal (6 p.m. at SUU’s Eccles Coliseum) next Friday at 11 a.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium, though administrators have not ruled out moving that game to a southern Utah location since both participants will be from Washington County.

Stats: dhstan111016

3AA Playoff bracket (via UHSAA.org)

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

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

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