3AA Semifinals: Flyers dominate from start to finish vs. Tooele

Dixie's Jeff Martinez (55), Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – With a smothering defense, led by Jeff Martinez, and an unstoppable offense, led by Zak Harrah, the Dixie Flyers ran away with a 45-6 win over Tooele in the 3AA State Semifinals Friday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

dixie-smtoole-smWith the win, Dixie advances to next Friday’s state championship game (11 a.m. at Rice Eccles Stadium) with an opportunity to win a second straight state title and the third in four years.

Dixie's  Jeff Martinez (55) brings down the Tooele quarterback, Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie’s Jeff Martinez (55) brings down the Tooele quarterback, Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“Man, it hasn’t set in yet,” Dixie head coach Andy Stokes said. “I can’t be any happier that we came in here and won this game tonight. We came in here nervous because that was a good football team and I am proud of these kids tonight they came to play. And that senior leadership that we have that has been here in this stadium before, they were huge tonight.”

It’s difficult to say which was more dominant — the Flyers offense or the Flyers defense.

On the O, Dixie gained 551 yards and scored on seven of its 11 possessions. On D, the Flyers allowed just 112 yards and eight first downs. After halftime, Tooele went 18 minutes of game time without a first down, gaining a net of zero yards in that stretch.

Dixie's  Zak Harrah (1), Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie’s Zak Harrah (1), Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“Number one, we just knew we needed to stop the dive and if we did that it would be the key to the whole deal,” Dixie defensive coordinator Wayne Alofipo said. “Once we did that we forced them outside of their playbook a little, forced them outside of their comfort zone and that kind of rattled them and gave us the momentum.”

Dixie never trailed in the ballgame, opening with a 67-yard drive that culminated with Tre Miller diving in from 2-yards out. The Buffaloes made the game interesting early by turning a Harrah interception into six points. Ryan Brady ran it in from 12-yards out to make it a 7-6 game after a missed extra point.

But that was really the only highlight in the game for Tooele. Dixie responded right after the Brady TD, tearing 70-yards up the field in just three plays. Jaden Harrison’s 46-yard catch off the throw from Harrah made it 14-6 and the Dixie offense was just getting warmed up.

Dixie's  Jaden Harrison (6) breaks a tackle, Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie’s Jaden Harrison (6) breaks a tackle, Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

After an exchange of possessions, Harrah capped a 35-yard drive with a 10-yard scramble to make it 21-6 with 6:52 left in the first half. Dixie struck again four minutes later to push it to 28-6 when Harrah found Bret Barben with a 20-yard TD bullet.

With the defense owning the line of scrimmage, the rest of the game seemed to be a formality. Martinez, who had 10 tackles from his defensive lineman position, was a beast inside — or perhaps an Avenger.

“I’ve always loved superheroes and the Hulk is my favorite superhero, so I don’t know, maybe there is one inside of me,” Martinez said. “Coach Wayne taught me when I was a sophomore that come game time, you have to be able to flip a switch and everything that he has ever taught me I have always taken it to heart. I love that guy and he is such a great coach and so is Coach Stokes and I give all the credit that I could ever possibly give to them.”

Martinez, along with Keanu Faumuina and Tyson Fisher, and the Dixie defensive line didn’t allow that Buffs run game to get going. Tooele entered the game averaging 282 rushing yards per contest, but ended up with just 90 yards on 39 attempts, only 2.3 yards per rush.

Dixie's  Bret Barben (13) makes a touchdown catch, Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie’s Bret Barben (13) makes a touchdown catch, Dixie vs. Tooele, 3AA Football Semifinals, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Dixie upped the lead to 35-6 after getting a stop to start the third quarter and then going 51 yards in five plays. Miller got his second TD on a 12-yard run to make it 35-6 with 9:23 to play in the third quarter. It went to 38-6 seven minutes later on a 24-yard field goal by Thayne Reid.

Harrison had the final score of the night on a 12-yard pass from Harrah and Dixie punched its ticket to the finals.

“It’s not easy to go to the championship,” Alofipo said. “It’s like our third time out of four years and we are taking this in stride and appreciating every moment, because you never know which game is your last. We will take it head on and enjoy it.”

Harrah finished with an impressive 366 passing yards on 18 of 23 attempts and three scores. Harrison caught eight passes for 210 yards and Barben had nine grabs for 151 yards. Miller rushed for 101 yards.

Payton Wilgar was also stout on defense, picking up seven tackles, one for loss and an interception.

Dixie, 9-2, will battle Logan, 10-2, for the title. Tooele, which finishes 8-4, got 53 yards from Brady.

Stats: toolog111315

 

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.