KEARNS – If the Zion Lions-Utah Shock matchup had been a battle of attrition, the Shock would have won handily. Zion showed up with only 20 players suited, and lost another five to injury or ejection before the game ended.
“We had so many guys playing out of position,” said Zion head coach Dale Stott. “Our defensive line at the end of the game consisted of players that had not played there all year.”
But even with the bizarre circumstances, Zion came away with a 34-28 four overtime thriller Saturday in Salt Lake County.
“Our two starters, Bailey Glass and Kaipo Hurtt, are both out,” said Stott. “Josh played receiver today out of necessity. That is, till he got hurt late in the game.”
Both of the Lions’ scores were from sustained rushing drives. An unsportsmanlike penalty on the second touchdown resulted in a kickoff from the 20-yard line. After a good return, the Shock were able to get their first score on the board shortly before halftime to pull within 14-7.
The Shock then knotted the game on the first possession of the second half. The Lions responded with a long drive. A 10-yard pass from Misi Tupe to Dillon Bishoff appeared to give the Lions a 20-14 advantage. But Bishoff was called for offensive pass interference. Then, before the next play could be run, the Lions got three consecutive unsportsmanlike penalty calls resulting from one player.
“We had a player who disagreed with the call,” said Stott. “He drew two penalties and was ejected and then was penalized again after he left the field, all from the same official. I have never seen anything like it.”
Instead of the touchdown advantage the Lions faced a third down and goal from their own 20-yard line. Matters got worse when the Lions punt was blocked. The blocked punt led to a Shock score and 21-14 advantage.
The Lions had only traveled with five offensive linemen. After an injury and the ejection, they employed their tight ends as offensive linemen. Running back Rimo Mapu then went down with injury, leaving the Lions with Matt Feula as their only regular running back. Then Zion lost Ford to a hamstring injury. The Lions were able to tie the score when Tupe found Clifton Smith on a post corner route.
Zion had two chances to win in regulation, but missed both field goals. In the first overtime, the Lions held the Shock scoreless, but then failed to score on their third field goal attempt.
In the second overtime the Lions scored on a Tupe run but the Shock was able to match it to get the score to 28 all.
In the third OT, the Lions again held the Shock — and again missed the game-winning field goal. In the fourth overtime, Matt Feula powered in to give the Lions a 34-28 lead. But the Lions could not convert the PAT. The game ended when Dave Bishoff added to his team-leading interception total by picking off a Shock pass.
“It feels like we won the battle, but lost the war,” said Stott. “I am sure happy we have a bye week. It would have been awful hard to play next week. At least some guys can get healthy.”
The Lions move to 5-2 and are tied for second place with the Las Vegas Trojans. The Shock fall to 5-3. After a week off, the Lions will play the Utah Wildcats at home for their final game of the season on June 4. Playoffs will begin the following Saturday.
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