The Panthers had a decent shot to get back in the game midway through the fourth period trailing 21-7 with the ball on the Thunder 14, but running back Prentiss Miller (27 carries for 143 yards) couldn’t convert on fourth and five. Desert Hills regained control and scored again to seal the deal.
“I’m almost speechless right now,” said Thunder quarterback Ty Rutledge, who finished with 192 passing yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. “I’m so proud of our guys.”
Despite an early Desert Hills score, courtesy of Jordan Hokanson, the first half featured a relentless defensive battle. Neither team was able to move the ball much and wound up having to punt after three quick downs.
“We couldn’t run the ball at all in that first half,” Rutledge said. “And I didn’t play very well.”
The Thunder weren’t without their chances.
With the clock winding down in the first quarter, Hokanson picked off Panther quarterback Dylan Draper and ran it back to the 48-yard line. But Rutledge followed suit and threw a pick of his own that was brought down by Tyker Olds.
Later, with 3:45 left in the half, Rutledge connected with Brad Wulfenstein, who ran the ball in for a 76-yard touchdown.
The score sat at 12-0 after Desert Hills faltered on its two-point conversion.
Pine View struck back with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter thanks to Miller, who ran in a jaw dropping 50-yard touchdown. The extra point drew the Panthers within five.
But the Thunder weren’t about to panic.
A long drive set them up deep in Panthers territory. Running back Bridger Cowdin found a hole and moved the ball 20 yards to the PV five. Hokanson finished off the drive two plays later with a quick dash into the end zone.
Desert Hills again attempted for two points and again came up empty. With the score set at 18-7, and with plenty of time on the clock, the Panthers were in perfect position to strike.
Unfortunately, their offense couldn’t strike a rhythm. Facing fourth down and two, Travis Lagrone (who finished with a whopping 11 tackles) slammed Miller to the ground and gave the ball back to the home team. Rutledge then drove his team downfield, setting up a 28 yard field goal that Andrew Yergensen easily converted.
Now down 21-7, the Panthers pushed the ball downfield on the ensuing possession. Jack Bangerter made a catch near the 41-yard line with under six minutes to go. Ryan Olds made back-to-back plays that brought Pine View to the Thunder 45. Both Miller and Draper ran the ball hard and got within 14 yards of the end zone. But Desert Hills’s red zone defense held strong and forced a fourth down that Miller couldn’t overcome. The gifted runner narrowly missed the first down and turned the ball over to the Thunder.
As if that weren’t enough, Rutledge then took a snap and ran 80 yards to score with just two minutes left in the game, part of his 187-yard rushing day.
The excited Thunder players cheered as they ran into the locker room, having won 28-7.
“We’re still making corrections,” Franke said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best ball yet. But we’ve got guys that are willing to do the work, and that’s why I’m excited.
“It was a good win, but I’m already worried about next week.”
Desert Hills will next face off against Dixie. PV has Cedar next week.
Boxscore: DH Varsity vs PV Box Score 14 Sept 2012
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