ST. GEORGE – Pine View will head into the 3A State Playoffs with a marquee running back, an improving passing game and a defense with a chip on its shoulder.
Pine View held Warriors running back Mitch Phillips to 36 yards rushing and the entire Snow Canyon team had just 156 total yards in the rout. Phillips had rushed for 336 yards last week against Dixie.
“We knew they were a good running team and we just took it personal,” Pine View safety Austin Gibbs said. “We just had to shut him down. We did tighten things down this week in practice. We were ready.”
The Panthers, 6-4 and 3-3 in region, earned the fourth seed out of Region 9 with the win, breaking the tie with the Warriors (also 6-4 and 3-3) by beating them head-to-head.
“It’s a whole new season now,” Pine View head coach Ray Hosner said. “Everyone is 0-0. We’ve had a lot of adversity along the way, but I think our defense helped turn this season around.”
A month ago, Pine View was 0-2 in region and 2-3 overall. The only loss since then was an overtime heartbreaker at the hands of the defending-champion Hurricane Tigers.
“It’s all about attitude,” defensive end Wes Moeai said. “We’ve had a real positive attitude and have come together as a team. We’re too good a team to let this end now.”
This game looked like it was going to be a defensive war in the first 16 minutes of game time. The only score on the board was a Prentiss Miller 17-yard TD run after a Gibbs interception.
But the Panthers, thanks in part to a couple of the Warriors four turnovers in the game, turned it into a blowout by halftime.
Carson Murdock capped a 7-play, 74-yard drive with a 13-yard TD pass from Kody Wilstead with 7:42 to go in the second quarter. After a shanked punt by Snow Canyon, Pine View pushed the lead to 17-0 on a 22-yard field goal by Ethan Baer. On the very first SC play after the field goal, Brandon Mauia picked off Mason Smith off of a deflection.
The Panthers wasted little time, scoring in six plays to make it 24-0. Murdock got his second TD of the half on a 4-yard leaping grab at the back of the end zone on a pass from Wilstead with 19 seconds left in the half.
“With Wilstead playing well, people really have to pick their poison with us now,” Hosner said. “If they want to go man on our outside guys, we can pass the ball. If not, Prentiss will get his yards.”
Miller has gotten his yards all season long. He had 167 yards on 28 carries and a pair of scores and now has more than 2,000 yards rushing this season. He’s averaging just over 200 yards a game.
Snow Canyon got on the scoreboard in the third quarter after a Wilstead interception set the Warriors up at the 4-yard line. Two Phillips runs later, it was 24-7.
But Pine View responded by going 71 yards in nine plays, while chewing up 5:45 off the clock. Miller took it in from 2 yards out to make it 30-7.
“Stopping the running game is all about attitude,” Hosner said. “One hundred percent, you’ve got to have a little nasty in you. We challenged the kids and they responded.”
Wilstead passed for 152 yards and found nine different receivers in the win for PVHS.
For Snow Canyon, Austin Griffin caught a late TD pass from sophomore Jake Frei. But the Warriors, who will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season, never got close to Pine View in the second half.
Pano Tiatia also rushed for 61 yards in the game and Pine View was never really challenged after the second-quarter surge. The Panthers will likely face Spanish Fork next week up in Utah County. The Dons play at Payson Thursday night with the top seed on the line. Spanish Fork is a heavy favorite in the game.
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