ST. GEORGE – Demolition. Destruction. Domination. The Dixie Flyers controlled every facet of the game against the visiting Uintah Utes in the first round of the playoffs, winning 55-8.
Forget about scoring. Uintah measured success by just getting first downs. “This is four weeks in a row that both sides of the ball have played well,” said Dixie free safety R.J. Wilgar. “We jumped on them early and then got some playing time for our reserves in the second half.”
The Flyers had six touchdowns and 41 points in the first quarter. They took a 55-0 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Their second string players played most of the third quarter and kept the Utes scoreless. Uintah would finally get on the board against Dixie’s third and fourth string players in the fourth quarter.
Dixie started the game at its 29-yard line. Quarterback Ammon Takau completed three of three passes for 77 yards on the drive and finished it with his legs with a two-yard option run. After a failed PAT, Dixie led 6-0 with less than two minutes gone.
After a three-and-out by the Utes, Dixie drove 65 yards in five plays, culminating in a 15-yard sweep by Jaden Harrison to go up 13-0 with 8:13 to play.
On the Utes next drive, quarterback Haden Bunderson scrambled for 24 yards after being flushed from the pocket. Wilgar wrapped Bunderson and stripped the ball from him as he was going down. It was recovered by Dixie linebacker Namu Stevenson at the Utes 43-yard line. Four plays later, Takau eluded two tacklers, scrambled to the right and found wide receiver Logan Schweitzer wide open from 16 yards out to put the Flyers up 20-0 with less than half of the first quarter expired.
After another three-and-out, it took the Flyers one play to score again. Takau found Harrison for a 75-yard catch and run. Wide receiver Bret Barben impressively blocked three different Utes on the play to spring Harrison.
“It was weird how it transpired,” said Barben. “Our receiving corps works on blocking schemes because we throw a lot of sideline passes. Jaden’s cuts put me in position to get some key blocks on the play.” With the period less than half gone the Flyers held a 27-0 lead.
On Uintah’s next possession, the Utes again faced a fourth down on their own 26-yard line. They decided to fake the punt to keep the drive alive. Needing to get to the 30-yard line, upback Jurrey Beddes would only reach the 29, turning the ball over on downs. With the short field, Dixie made short work by going the distance in just three plays. Tre Miller got his first touchdown of the day with a 3-yard burst up the middle. With 3:23 to play in the first the score grew to 34-0.
Uintah finally got its initial first down on the next drive before stalling again. After punting for the fourth time in the first quarter, Uintah watched helplessly once again as Takau found three separate receivers for completions. The touchdown completion came when Takau found Harrison from 37 yards out as time expired in the first quarter. Dixie’s lead swelled to 41-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Beddes ran the ball to the Ute 20 where we collided with Dixie tackler Jeff Martinez. As Martinez came into contact, he stripped the ball from Beddes and dragged Ute tacklers eight yards the other direction before being pulled down at the Ute 12-yard line. Dixie was unable to capitalize however as Takau was sacked for a big loss. McLane Keenan’s 41-yard field goal was wide left. The play also knocked Takau out of the game.
“I tweaked my ankle,” said Takau. “I could have gone back in but the coaches decided to start putting in reserve players.”
Backup quarterback Jaden Harrison would pay immediate dividends. After another three-and-out by the Utes, Harrison tore off a 61-yard run to put Dixie up 48-0. “Our blocking up front was spectacular,” said Harrison. “My lanes were wide open today.”
On Dixie’s next possession, Harrison had another long run for touchdown, this time for 80 yards, called back due to penalty. On the next play Miller ran the ball for 78 yards for the final touchdown of the half.
By the end of the second quarter Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres had put in his third string quarterback, Zak Harrah.
“We were fortunate tonight to get a lot of our underclassmen good experience,” said Monkres. “We did not need to risk injury with such a big lead.”
At halftime, Dixie had a 521-103 offensive yardage advantage. As exciting as the Flyer offense was in the first half, the exact opposite occurred in the second half. While Dixie moved the ball and committed few errors, the second half was a battle of field position as both teams kept the other out of the end zone.
The Utes would finally get on the board in the fourth quarter. Running back Wylie Thomas scored on a 10-yard run with 9:20 to play. Running back Caden Henderson bowled in for the two-point conversion to get to the final score 55-8.
Harrah would get Dixie back into scoring position again with less than three minutes to go. On a first and goal from the Ute 6-yard line, Monkres would have his quarterback take a knee for the last few plays to run the clock out.
For the game, Harrison had over 350 yards of total offense, leading the team in both rushing and receiving. He rushed for 158 yards on nine carries, caught five passes for 158 yards and had 10 yards passing.
Takau completed 11 of 17 passes for 289 yards. Miller had 127 yards on eight rushes. Harrah rushed 41 yards on six carries. Schweitzer, Barben and Keenan had two receptions apiece for 53, 28 and 23 yards respectively.
Thomas led the Utes with 61 yards on 16 carries. Beddes had three receptions for 46 yards.
For the game Dixie gained 647 yards offensively and held the Utes to 259 total yards.
With the win, the Flyers advance to the next round of the playoffs, traveling north to take on Stansbury, who sat out this week with a first-round bye.
“They are a good team, reminiscent offensively of Hurricane,” said Monkres. “We will need to prepare well this week.”
The game is set for next Friday at 5 p.m.
Uintah completes its season with the loss at 4-7.
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