WEST JORDAN – Snow Canyon survived a mind-boggling rash of late-game big plays to knock off 5A Copper Hills 23-20 Friday night.
Without steady second-half offensive persistence, the Warriors stood no chance at closing out a rowdy fourth quarter against the substantially bigger Copper Hills Grizzlies. The last three minutes of an already exciting game ended with two touchdowns, a fumbled punt return, a successful Grizzlies onside kick, a roughing-the-kicker violation and a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Once the dust settled, the Warriors exited victorious, but down a man. Quarterback Warner Rigby, already struggling with injuries this season, went down in the final minutes and sat out the rest of the game. The Warriors managed to pull off a 23-20 victory without Rigby for the final five minutes.
Before Warner’s injury, he initiated a scoring drive with a long 36-yard run. The craziness ensued as starting running back Connor Parry moved to quarterback and Trevor Horlacher moved to running back. Parry and Horlacher led a slow offensive grind to the end zone, which put Snow Canyon up 23-14 with 2:22 left in the game.
Even without their QB, the Warriors grinding resolve was evident.
“We continued to push forward, just another three yards here, another three yards there,” Warriors head coach Marcus Matua said of their second half persistence.
After the scoring run, the Snow Canyon special teams made one of two back to back, late-game mistakes. They allowed the Grizzlies Austin Heinecke to run back their kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown. The score with 2:15 left made it 23-20.
The ensuing onside kick by the Grizzlies was bobbled by the Warriors special teams and recovered by Copper Hills. Panic set in. The Grizzlies had the ball, down three within sight of the end zone.
After a short 10-yard drive, the Grizzlies had made it to their 44-yard line, but made a major mental error. For an unknown reason, they received two unsportsmanlike conduct violations, pushing them back far enough that they could never recover. The Warriors ended up with the ball at the one minute mark and kneeled-out to win the game.
“It wasn’t any big plays, it was just continuous, long drives,” Matua said. “Today this win came down to everyone performing their role and doing what they need to do to help us be successful.”
This was a big road win for the Warriors, boosting their confidence and their resolve. After a frustrating offensive first half, Snow Canyon regrouped at halftime with a game plan to execute on every play. The Warriors patiently grinded the ball, sometimes inches at a time, on every offensive possession, making their coach proud along the way.
“Even though Warner Rigby has been hurt and suffered through another injury this game, the whole team deserves recognition for stepping up,” Matua said
Looking forward, Matua thinks the Warriors still need some work. “What we need from these boys is just consistency on both sides of the ball.”
And don’t think the special teams got away free without a little constructive, loving criticism for their late game blunders.
“We really need to be better on the special teams side,” he said.
Despite the late game chaos, all that persistent offensive pounding paid off. The Warriors ended up with 313 total offensive yards, with 244 of those rushing yards. Rigby ended up as the rushing leader for Snow Canyon with 82 yards total. He also had 69 passing yards, while Horlacher had 74 on the ground and Kennedy added 61 rushing and 60 receiving.
Snow Canyon improved to 3-1 overall. The Warriors are 0-1 in 3AA South Region play. SC plays another game in Northern Utah next week at Payson High.
Copper Hills, which trailed 10-7 at the half, dropped to 0-5 overall.
Stats: SCHS 23, CHHS 20
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