It is certainly big news that both Dixie and Desert Hills got 20-plus point wins on the opening night of 3AA South Region play Friday night and those two teams meet next week in what should be an epic battle at Thunder Stadium.
But the buzz around town was especially hot as folks tried to digest what happened at Warriors Stadium Friday night. Two stout defenses, a whole satchel full of game-saving plays, three overtimes and zero points for four quarters and two of those OTs.
In the end, Pine View outlasted Snow Canyon in a triple-overtime fight that lasted deep into the night.
We had reporters (Darren Cole, Jordan Abel and Andy Griffin) and photographers (Robert Hoppie, Kevin Luthy and Dave Amodt) at all three games, plus some great highlights brought to you by videographer Dallas Griffin (at the PV-SC thriller) and our friends at CEC-TV.
We’re happy to bring you the best from opening night in the 3AA South. This is the Saturday Breakdown.
Pine View 8, Snow Canyon 6 (3OT)
Written by Darren Cole
ST. GEORGE – It can only be described as a classic defensive game that those in attendance will not soon forget. The Snow Canyon Warriors played the undefeated Pine View Panthers to a scoreless draw through regulation and two overtimes. But the third overtime was decisive and the Panthers came out with more points and the victory, 8-6.
The Warriors scored on their first play in the third overtime. Jackson Nowatzke faked the handoff to the right and tossed the ball to TJ Taimi running the reverse direction. The Panther defense bit and Taimi pulled up and threw a 25-yard lob to a wide open Chris Poulsen in the end zone. The scoreboard finally read something other than zeroes. Teams are required to go for two in the third overtime. Nowatzke’s pass fell incomplete, but the Warriors had the lead 6-0.
Pine View quarterback Riley Livingston started the third overtime with two straight passes to Wiley on short out routes. On third-and-6, Livingston found Steve Bangerter at the 10-yard line. Bangerter caught the pass, spun to his left, shedding his defender and cut in front of a second defender into the end zone.
“We knew we were going to go right back at him for the conversion,” said Hosner. “Steve is a great possession guy, especially in traffic.”
Livingston found Bangerter on a quick slant. “It was a scrape play,” said Bangerter. “Mason Wiley runs his route. I cross behind him to get a small window. Riley (Livingston) has to thread the needle but it works well when it is run right. Tonight we ran it right.”
The conversion ended the marathon with the Panthers still undefeated and the Warriors falling to 3-2.
“How about that defense,” said Hosner. “Both teams. Our guys kept them out of the end zone all game. And when they caught us on their trick play, our offense picks it up and scores when we needed it.”
The first half saw the Warriors only gain 68 yards of total offense. The Panthers were slightly better with 147 total yards.
The Warriors were moving the ball on their first possession of the second half. After two consecutive first downs, Panther senior defensive back Mason Wiley intercepted Nowatzke’s pass.
“We were in man coverage and I had the wing receiver,” said Wiley. “I peeked at the quarterback and saw him cock his arm back. He threw it right to me.”
After the two teams traded punts, Pine View took over again at their 37-yard line. Eight plays later, the Panthers were again in the red zone at the Warrior 5-yard line. Running back Kobe Topalian took the handoff and ran off tackle where he was met by a host of Warriors and driven back. The ball came loose and Taimi scooped up the ball and raced the other way.
Wiley who had lined up as receiver on the other side, took a good angle and made a game-saving tackle after Taimi had raced 60 yards the other direction.
“I thought the ball was dead,” said Wiley. “Everyone had stopped except their player. And I did not hear a whistle so I knew I had to get to him.”
“If Wiley doesn’t catch that guy we lose the game,” said Panther head coach Ray Hosner. “That kid he was chasing runs a 4.4 (40-yard dash). It was a great defensive play.”
For only the second time of the night, the Warriors were in Panther territory at the 30-yard line. However, penalties stalled the drive and Andy Day’s 25-yard field goal was wide.
The Panthers coughed up the ball soon after, though, on another fumble, giving Snow Canyon great position again at the Panther 43-yard line. Coach Marcus Matua gave the ball to running back Josh Barnes on seven consecutive plays. Barnes got positive yardage on every play and the Warriors were in the Panther red zone for the first time of the night, knocking on the door at the Panther 5-yard line. Barnes got the call again on the next play. After smashing into the line and collecting two more yards he lost control of the ball and the Panthers recovered the fumble.
On the Panthers last possession in regulation, Hosner chose to run the clock out and take the game into overtime.
The first OT saw the Snow Canyon offense take the field first. Five straight rushes got the Warriors a first-and-10 at the 1-yard line. Barnes got the call again, but could only advance the ball to the half-yard line. A false start penalty moved the Warriors back five yards. Wiley made a great defensive play, tackling running back Kody Jacobsen for a 7-yard loss on the next play. Day’s 26-yard field goal again failed to get between the uprights.
The Panthers failed to get a first down in their possession. Brooksby’s 33-yard attempt failed to get any lift and went straight into the backs of his offensive linemen.
The Panthers took possession first in the second overtime. It ended abruptly when Joe Servati made a spectacular interception on Livingston’s quick slant pass. The Warriors took over. On their second play, Jacobsen ran around the right end, found the corner and raced 24 yards for the touchdown. The Warrior crowd went wild. Amidst the loud cheering it was difficult to hear the whistles of the officials.
Apparently Jacobsen’s run benefited from a hold by one of his blockers. The ball was moved back to the 30-yard line. Two plays later, Day’s 44-yard field goal did not have enough distance, forcing the third overtime.
For the game Snow Canyon had 202 yards of offense, 132 coming on the ground. Pine View gained 289 with 136 on the ground.
Individually for Snow Canyon, Barnes had 85 yards rushing on 27 carries. Nowatzke completed 4 of 13 for 45 yards. Taimi completed his only pass for 25 yards and the touchdown. Poulsen led in receiving with two catches for 30 yards.
Topalian topped the century mark with 117 yards on 25 carries. Livingston completed 17 of 27 passes for 153 yards. Caden Bringhurst had five receptions for 45 yards.
Next week Snow Canyon travels to Cedar. Pine View will host Hurricane.
Dixie 47, Cedar 19
Written by Jordan Abel
ST. GEORGE — Everyone knew the Dixie offense was good. But who knew about that Dixie D?
“I think our kids did an excellent job at maintaining their assignments both offensively and defensively,” Dixie head coach Andy Stokes said. “That always translates to good things. It was a great team win. Everybody did a great job.”
Cedar finished the first half with 14 total yards. After halftime though, Cedar seemed to calm down a bit as it finished the game with 217 total yards. Cedar finally forced a punt early in the third quarter and found the end zone on a pass from Mason Fakahua, who finished with 157 total yards, to Bracken Yardley. But at that point, it was just getting too late to mount a comeback as the Redmen still couldn’t stop Dixie’s offense often enough.
“I thought the second half, the pass defense was much better,” Cedar head coach Josh Bennett said. “Run defense, I thought, was outstanding, especially against one of the better backs in the state.”
Dixie running back Tre Miller rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns, giving him over 700 yards in five games this season. He had 87 of his 156 yards on two carries as he scored on a 56-yard touchdown and got down to the 1-yard line on another 31-yard rush.
“We knew they were (only putting five in the box), so that would make it easier to run, so the offensive line just did a great job in blocking, and I just found the holes,” Miller said.
Dixie quarterback Zak Harrah threw for 197 yards and had five total touchdowns, including one on the ground.
“We were throwing some quick passes,” Harrah said. “We didn’t want their line to get in and hit me, so we got some quick passes. Hobbs (Nyberg) played really well. He made some guys miss after he got the ball and scored.”
Harrah and Bret Barben hooked up on some key plays. They connected on a 41-yard completion to set up a shorter pass for Barben’s touchdown.
“It was just man-on-man, so I’ll take my guy,” Harrah said. “Bret’s one of the best receivers in Region 9, if not one of the best (in the state). He just goes up and makes plays.”
Barben recorded 75 yards receiving and a touchdown.
“With how many yards Tre is getting running the ball, it opens up the pass a lot,” Barben said. “It helps to have such a good running back that he can get yards, so they start focusing on the run more. It opens up the pass a little bit. Zak did a good job getting me the ball.”
Cedar forced a fumble early, but couldn’t capitalize as the Redmen offense gave it right back on the ensuing play. That looked like the start of a defensive battle, but Miller wouldn’t be denied after the early fumble.
The Flyers first-half TDs came on plays of 21 yards (Nyberg from Harrah), 2 yards (Harrah run), 6 yards (Nyberg again), 56 yards (Miller) and 8 yards (Barben). Nyberg, who had 30 rushing yards and 65 receiving yards, scored his third TD in the third quarter on a 21-yarder from Harrah.
Dixie, 4-1 overall and 1-0 in region, next travels to Desert Hills and Cedar hosts Snow Canyon next Friday as region play continues.
“We’ve got to start the game better than we did,” Bennett said. “I don’t think we were ready to play and then it took us a half to get going. We’ve got to be able to play four quarters if we’re going to play with anybody in this region.”
Desert Hills 37, Hurricane 10
Written by Andy Griffin
HURRICANE — The two halves of this game were very different, with a one-minute stretch at the end of the first half perhaps acting as a catalyst for that difference.
The contest was very even for the first 23 minutes, with the Tigers holding a 10-7 edge with just over a minute until halftime. But a bad snap on a punt cost Hurricane a safety, making it 10-9. After a good runback on the safety kickoff, Desert Hills went 45 yards in just four plays. Nick Warmsley gave D-Hills the lead with a beautiful post pass to Cody Ricketts from 29 yards out. The score gave DH a 16-10 lead at the half and offered the Thunder a surge of momentum heading into the locker room.
“We made some mistakes in the first half and we addressed those,” Desert Hills coach Carl Franke said. “Those were some big plays at the end of the half and we played better after that.”
With momentum and a stout defense, Desert Hills took over after intermission. Using a faster tempo and an empty formation (no backs with QB Warmsley), the Thunder began running the ball. On most of the rushing plays, DH would send a man in motion and Warmsley would either hand him the ball or keep for a rush up the middle.
“I felt like we were ready to make a statement tonight,” said Marco Jordan, DH’s running back and the one who was usually in motion in the empty set. “With region play, we knew we had to step things up. I felt good tonight.”
With Warmsley and Jordan running the ball and the offensive line beginning to dominate, D-Hills marched up the field in the third quarter to make it 23-10. Warmsley’s 9-yard run was the pot of gold and it came with 8:21 left in the third.
After another defensive stop, the Thunder marched again, pushing the lead to 30-10 with 4:08 left in the third on a 1-yard dive by Jordan. The lead ballooned to 37-10 early in the fourth quarter when Warmsley found Garrick Sharp from 17 out for the final score of the game.
“We started a little bit slow tonight,” DH linebacker Badge Morris said. “During the end of the first half, we stepped it up. Our sideline was jumping around. We were having fun. I think that was the difference.”
Hurricane led 3-0 after a long drive in the first quarter. Jaden Stone hit a 35-yard field goal to cap a 13-play drive that covered 74 yards and took up nearly seven minutes.
The score stayed that way until a crazy sequence on the first two plays of the second quarter. Warmsley put D-Hills ahead by scrambling away from trouble and finding a streaking Ricketts for a 55-yard TD strike that made it 7-3 Thunder with 11:48 to go in the first half.
After a touchback on the kickoff, Tigers fullback Jake Carr took a dive play right up the middle of the field for an 80-yard touchdown.
“We had a mis-key,” Morris said. “It was frustrating, that run. But we’ll fix it.”
The two TDs came 11 seconds apart and had the Tigers in front 10-7 until the final key moments of the half.
The 21-0 advantage for Desert Hills in the second half was largely a product of the Thunder winning the battle in the trenches.
“Hurricane is very talented up front and their linebackers are very good,” Franke said. “But our line played really well as a unit in the second half. All five of them played wonderfully and I think we really wore Hurricane down. We ran Nick (Warmsley) a little more, which we need to do because he seems to play better when he’s in the game running a little bit. But we knew the game would be won up front and I thought we did that.”
Warmsley has been a one-man wrecking crew with his yardage totals this season. Friday night he rushed for 93 yards and passed for another 213 on 68 percent (17 of 25) efficiency. He had three TDs and one interception on a tipped ball in the first quarter.
Ricketts was his favorite target as he grabbed six receptions for 141 yards and two scores. He missed a third TD on a deep ball that he caught, but was tackled just two feet from the goal line.
The trio of Morris, Quinn Kiser and Ryan Hoppie were tops on defense for DH, which allowed 300 yards, but held Hurricane to seven percent conversion rate on third and fourth downs (1 for 14).
Carr did compile 119 yards on 12 rushes and that TD. QB Josh Parker was 16 of 25 for 142 yards through the air for HHS. Kirt McDaniel caught four of those passes for 76 yards.
Desert Hills, now 2-2 overall and 1-0 in region, will return home to host Dixie next Friday night in a game that could have South Region title implications.
The Tigers, 2-2 and 0-1, will face undefeated Pine View at Panther Stadium next week.
In games from the 3AA North region, Logan improved to 2-0 with a 49-21 win over Ben Lomond, while Park City and Stansbury each improved to 1-1 with wins Friday night. The Miners beat Bear River 28-6 and the Stallions beat Judge Memorial 27-13.
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