ST. GEORGE — One thing was apparent in the first half of the Dixie-Desert Hills battle. They were fighting for first place.
Both defenses stepped up and played smash-mouth football. Preseason region Player of the Year Tre Miller was continually met in the backfield on his carries by the likes of Zak Fuchs, Ryan Hoppie and Justice Alo. Miller had eight yards on 10 carries in the first half.
The Thunder could not take advantage however and actually lost the yardage battle in the first half 139-123. Quarterback Nick Warmsley got 61 of those yards on the ground and 45 through the air. But the only points either team could muster were field goals from their kickers. Both kickers scored on their second attempts after failing earlier in the half on their first attempts.
In the second half two key plays put the game out of reach for the Flyers. On Desert Hills’ first possession, they went three-and-out. Punting from the Thunder 27-yard line, the ball went almost straight up into the air. It landed 15 yards down field but took a Dixie bounce, netting the Thunder only 13 yards on the punt.
Dixie took over in Thunder territory at the 40. Nine plays later, Dixie quarterback Zac Harrah found wide receiver Bret Barben on a 7-yard out route in the end zone for the first touchdown of the game, making it 10-3.
On Desert Hills’ second possession of the half, Warmsley was intercepted by Flyer defensive back Payton Wilgar at the 35-yard line. Wilgar returned it to the Desert Hills 6-yard line. But the Thunder D stood tough and held Dixie to its second field goal of the game. It was 13-3 with just under four minutes remaining in the third.
The backbreaker came on Dixie’s next possession. Pinned deep in their own territory by a 56-yard Thunder punt, the Flyers would start at their own 13-yard line. Four plays later Harrah dropped back to pass. He was flushed from the pocket and ran to his left. He found wide receiver Hobbs Nyberg 10 yards downfield. Nyberg caught the pass, shed one would-be tackler and then raced down the Dixie sideline for an 81-yard touchdown.
Neither team would threaten again and the score remained 20-3 giving Dixie a 2-0 start in region play.
The Flyers, 5-1 overall, host Snow Canyon next Thursday. Desert Hills, now 2-3 overall and 1-1 in region, visit Pine View Friday night.
Make sure to check out Saturday Breakdown tomorrow on St. George News, with highlights, more photos, quotes and insight from Friday night’s games.
Stats: Dixie 20, Desert Hills 3
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