ST. GEORGE – It was hot at Desert Hills Friday night and it had nothing to do with the temperature.
The Thunder defense harassed and hounded Stansbury quarterback Chase Christiansen all night and Desert Hills dominated the highly-ranked Stallions 12-0 in the season opener for both teams.
Stansbury’s coaching staff was commenting in pregame how lucky they were to have come to St. George on a rare mild night in August. Then the game started and Desert Hills turned up the heat.
Christiansen, who has signed to play football at Utah State University, never had much of a chance. Every time he had the ball, a Thunder defender hit him hard. He ended up with five total rushing yards on 16 carries. Six of his carries went for negative yards. All-totaled, the Stallions accumulated just 80 yards of offense on 42 offensive plays, an average of less than two yards a play.
“The defense was incredible, wasn’t it,” DH coach Carl Franke said.
Thunder running back Bridger Cowdin, who rushed for 162 yards on 21 carries, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s nice knowing that whatever happens, the defense has got you covered,” he said. “They were amazing.”
Bridger’s brother, Tucker, is part of an elite group of linebackers for Desert Hills, led by middle back Sil Bundy.
“They are pretty amazing guys,” DH defensive coordinator Nick Hansen said. “Sil is the leader out there and he just knows how to slip through the cracks and get to every play. You may think you have him blocked, but somehow he squeezes through.”
Stansbury never seriously threatened to score in the game. The closest the Stallions got was on their first drive of the game when a couple of first downs got them to the Desert Hills 37-yard line. But a sack pushed the ball back out near midfield, forcing a punt. Stansbury would not pass the Thunder 40-yard line the rest of the night.
Still, Desert Hills didn’t put the game away until the second half. The only score of the first half cam on a 21-yard TD run by DH sophomore quarterback Nick Warmsley.
“He did a great job of staying in his role, not trying to do too much,” Franke said. “He ran the ball pretty well, too.”
Warmsley, who finished with 92 rushing yards and 24 passing yards, put the Thunder ahead 6-0 on a fourth and four keeper through the right side with 5:44 left in the first half. Desert Hills had a short field goal attempt blocked earlier in the quarter and had a 60-yard Cowdin TD run called back on a holding penalty.
The Thunder pushed the lead to 12-0 when Cowdin split the defenders on a sweep right and scampered 66 yards for a score with 7:00 left in the third quarter.
At that point, even though it was just a two-score lead, the Desert Hills defense made it feel like a 42-point lead.
“We made a few mistakes, but for the most part it worked,” Hansen said. “Sometimes you game plan, but the players don’t execute it. Tonight they did.”
Desert Hills finished with 299 yards in the game and just one turnover, a fumble by Warmsley early in the fourth quarter.
“You know, he didn’t let it bother him,” Franke said. “He was calling for the ball on the next series.”
It helped that Stansbury, which turned the ball over four times, fumbled it back to the Thunder two plays later.
Desert Hills will play at home again next Friday, playing host to Foothill, Nev.
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Boxscore/Stats: DH vs Stansbury Game Stats 23 Aug 2013
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