ST. GEORGE — Hurricane toyed around with the passing game Friday night, but when it came down to crunch time, the Tigers turned to what they do best — running the ball.
Hurricane rushed for 110 fourth-quarter yards and outscored Snow Canyon 14-0 in the final period to come away with a 35-21 victory at Warriors Stadium in the final regular-season game for the two squads. With the win, the Tigers secure third place in the 3AA South and a home game next week in the first round of the playoffs.
“There are times, when we really need to get the game going, that we go back to our roots,” HHS coach Steve Pearson said. “We go back to our fullback and our two wings and just go to that 1-2-3 punch.”
Using the passing game early in the contest had gotten the Tigers a 14-0 lead. But by halftime, that lead had evaporated into a 14-14 tie. An interception by Snow Canyon’s Dylan Parry in the third quarter set the Warriors up for their first lead of the night. Jason Mock ran a fly sweep in for the score to make it 21-14 four minutes into the second half.
The Tigers tied it moments later on a short Nick McDaniel run to set up the fourth quarter with the game tied at 21-21.
That’s when the Hurricane rushing game kicked it into high gear.
McDaniel and fullback Jake Carr led an attack that featured seven straight runs and ended with a 6-yard TD jaunt by McDaniel with 6:15 left in the game. The drive made it 28-21 with 6:15 left to play and was aided by a 15-yard Snow Canyon personal foul. Penalties were an issue all night for both teams, with a combined 214 penalty yards.
After a Snow Canyon punt, Carr and the Hurricane rushing game put the game on ice with a 69-yard drive that took just five runs. Carr’s 42-yard ramble in the middle of the drive was huge.
“I was mad and I just wanted to pick things up for our team,” Carr said. “In the first half, they had a really good run stop against us. But in the second half, the holes started opening up.”
Carr had just 33 yards rushing on nine carries before halftime. After intermission, the senior fullback had 120 yards on 15 carries.
“We kind of knew they were going to try and stop Jake cause he’s a beast,” Hurricane quarterback Josh Parker said. “We got a lot of passing yards in the first half, but then went back to the run.”
The play of the game came midway through the fourth quarter. With the score tied and the Tigers facing a third-and-8 at the SC 18-yard line, Carr took a pitch and swept wide. He was hit in the backfield, but bounced off the defender. He was hit again at about the 15 and again deflected the contact before finally being dragged down at the 9-yard line. Two plays later, McDaniel gave Hurricane a lead it would not surrender.
“That’s the quintessential Jake Carr,” Pearson said. “He’s able to turn not much into something. That’s a new little wrinkle that we put in during the bye week, trying to get him out into space and see if he can run somebody over and he did that.”
The Tigers dominated the box score, gaining 408 yards to Snow Canyon’s 173 and picking up 26 first downs to just 15 for the Warriors.
But SC was able to score 21 straight in the middle part of the game, thanks mostly to the legs of QB Jackson Nowatzke. He had 70 yards rushing in the first half, but managed 65 for the game after losing yards the entire second half. Nowatzke also passed for 48 yards, including a beautiful fade in the end zone to Tyson Deland.
But it was the Hurricane run game that stole all the headlines. The Tigers had 271 total rushing yards on 45 attempts, better than six yards a carry.
The Tigers, 5-3 overall and 3-2 in region, will play at home next week in the first round of the playoffs. Their opponent is still to be determined as the 3AA North ended up with three teams tied for fourth place with region records of 2-4 (Judge, Park City and Bear River). One of those three will get a home game as the fourth-place team, while the other two will travel to Hurricane and Cedar, the three and four seeds from the 3AA South.
Administrators for the three schools are set to meet Saturday to toss a coin and break the tie.
Snow Canyon, which finishes the regular season 4-5 overall and 1-4 in region, will travel to Stansbury next week for the fuirst round of the playoffs. The Stallions, 7-3, beat bear River 34-12 Friday night to clinch third place in the 3AA North.
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