ST. GEORGE — Cedar had Desert Hills on the ropes and let the Thunder escape. Hurricane had Snow Canyon on the ropes and just held on. And Dixie delivered a knockout punch early against Pine View as 3AA South Region play began Friday night with some surprising results and some impressive defensive performances.
A deflected field goal was the difference for Desert Hills in a one-point win at Cedar as the Redmen fell despite having led most of the night on Homecoming at Redmen Stadium.
For Hurricane, an early two-point conversion ended up being a huge factor late in the game in the Tigers’ Homecoming win over the Warriors.
And for Dixie, a defense that has seen the likes of Lone Peak and Alta this year was dominant against Pine View.
Reporters Jordan Abel, Bob Hudson, Darren Cole and Andy Griffin, photographers Robert Hoppie, Kevin Luthy and Katina Young and videographer Dallas Griffin (plus some help from CEC-TV) covered the night for St. George News and filed these reports:
Dixie 38, Pine View 7
Written by Andy Griffin
Last year, Dixie made yet another run at a state championship, falling just short in a finale loss to Logan. But with 24 seniors on that team, including stars like Tre Miller, Jaden Harrison and Jeff Martinez, it seemed like the Flyers were finally due for a rebuilding year in 2016.
Or maybe not.
“It was a struggle in the early season because we are young and we played some really good, big teams,” said Dixie sophomore running back Ammon Ah Quin. “But we just pushed through it and came through and it made us a better team in the long run.”
Dixie dominated from the the opening whistle Friday night, turning Panther Stadium into its own personal highlight back drop. Ah Quin had his best game as a Flyer and Jacob Barben was solid at quarterback for Dixie.
But that Dixie defense — oh my!
The Flyers picked off four Pine View passes, recovered a fumble and generally disrupted everything the Panther offense tried. The Panthers ended up with just 206 yards in the game and Jacob Mpungi, who had rushed for nearly 400 yards the past two games, was held to 58 yards on 15 carries.
“There was a lot of maturation that needed to take place in the preseason this year and we definitely learned a lot,” said Dixie defensive coordinator Wayne Alofipo. “We were just lucky tonight in that everything just clicked. The kids executed and everything went well.”
For the record, Dixie went 1-3 in its tough preseason schedule. But the Flyers progressed each week and showed tremendous signs of life with big offensive outputs against Lone Peak and Springville and a tough defensive effort against Alta.
“We were a little worried about that tough gauntlet and how the kids would come through it,” Alofipo said. “Losing breeds losing and so we were just a little concerned. But we’re glad the kids got out of it what they needed to.”
Along with the ferocious defense, Dixie also featured a surprisingly patient ball-control offense, led by Barben and Ah Quin.
Dixie’s first drive of 75 yards used more than five minutes and featured 10 running plays and only three passes. One of the three passes was the TD, a 5-yard swing pass from Barben to Hobbs Nyberg.
After the Panthers missed a field goal, Dixie went up 14-0 when Nyberg scored on a fly sweep from 9-yards out with just a minute gone in the second quarter.
After PV’s second turnover of the first half, Dixie went on another long drive, with Barben running it in around the right side from 14-yards out to make it 21-0 with five minutes left in the half. The Panthers missed another field goal moments later, giving Dixie the first-half shutout.
“This was a big game and we came out hyped and ready to go,” said Dixie defensive end Tyson Fisher. “We just went out there and tried to establish the line of scrimmage where we wanted it to be and everything else just happened.”
Dixie started the second half in similar fashion, this time going 80 yards in nine plays. Ah Quin carried on five of those plays, netting 54 yards. Nyberg caught a shovel pass on fourth down and dove into the end zone to make it 28-0.
The Flyers added a Thayne Reid field goal and a Josh Topham TD as Dixie built a 38-0 lead before the Panthers were finally able to get a score (on a Micahel Moten halfback pass to Carson Clark).
“The preseason was really hard,” Dixie defensive lineman Kaden Williams said. “We took a lot of beatings and took a lot of lumps. But this week, we just came in and settled down. The coaches drew up a great scheme and we all just bought in.”
For Dixie, which has now won four in a row against Pine View, there were a lot of stars in the game. Ah Quin racked up 153 rushing yards. Barben had three TD passes and rushed for another score. Fisher had two sacks. Nyberg scored twice.
But the most telling statistic of all was the crucial conversions for the two teams. Dixie was 50 percent on third downs, 8 out of 16, and converted on all three fourth down attempts — with two of those being touchdowns. Meanwhile, Pine View converted just 3 of 14 third-down tries and only 2 for 8 on fourth downs.
Combine that with the five Pine View turnovers and you have the makings of a blowout — and that’s what we got.
The Flyers, now 1-0 in region and 2-3 overall, outgained the Panthers 352-206 in the game. Dixie plays at Cedar next Friday night.
Pine View, 4-1 overall and 0-1 in region, got a nice game from receiver Clark, who had six catches for 113 yards. The Panthers will try and bounce back next week with a home game vs. Snow Canyon.
Desert Hills 18, Cedar 17
Written by Jordan Abel
In Cedar City, a physical game of two tough defenses ended in a last-minute field goal that came up short.
It was a battle of the preseason favorites, with D-Hills projected to win the region behind star Nephi Sewell and Cedar picked to finish second behind star Mason Fakahua. The intensity and excitement of the game did not disappoint.
But the Thunder came away with the win after a tipped Cedar field goal try with mere seconds left sent the kick awry.
Thunder head coach Carl Franke wasn’t happy with the performance of his team, even in victory.
“We didn’t even show up, it was ridiculous,” Franke said. “The whole thing was pathetic. Cedar showed up and played hard tonight. We found a way in the second half to make a few more plays, and our defense played, I thought, awesome all night. I’m just not happy with the way we played at all. Zero happiness right now. A win is a win. It’s great. We just can’t come off the bus playing like that.”
The Thunder had trailed by as many as 11 points in the game, finally taking the lead midway through the fourth quarter. The score came early enough for Fakahua and his teammates to march down the field for the potential game-winner. But Ryan Hoppie got a finger on the potential game-winner by Blake White-Schreibman from 37-yards out and the kick never had a chance after that.
“I feel bad for our kids because they prepared all week really hard,” Cedar head coach Josh Bennett said. “They focused up with a lot of distractions and with Homecoming. We had a great game plan going in. I thought we executed it most of the game, and we just didn’t get it right there at the end. I felt bad for our kids. I felt like they deserved to win that.”
Cedar’s defense was almost as stout as possible in the first half as Cedar took a 10-6 lead into halftime. The second half, and the fourth quarter particularly, were a different story as Desert Hills found its offense and scored 12 points unanswered to take the lead and win.
Cedar scored first on a 35-yard pass from Mason Fakahua to Braden Garrett at the start of the second quarter.
Sewell intercepted Fakahua on the next Cedar drive and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. DH failed to convert the two-point conversion.
“It was my first region game back. All glory to God. He gave me a second chance, and I’m grateful for it,” Nephi Sewell said. “I’m proud of the way both teams played. We both played hard. I’m proud of my team. Even though we were down by a touchdown, we never gave up; we still fought. Obviously Cedar has one of the best offenses in the region, and it’s kinda hard to stop multiple people at one time, but overall it was a great game.”
“I wasn’t expecting (Fakahua) to throw it my way,” Sewell said. “It was my first defensive series back. Last game I didn’t play defense, and it feels good to be able to hit again and be able to run around with the team. I was actually shocked when I had a pick, it’s been awhile. It’s been like a year and six months, so it feels good to be out here.”
White-Schreibman kicked a 43-yard field goal to take the Redmen into halftime with a 10-6 lead.
Desert Hills had a total of 48 yards in the first half, but with 172 yards in the second half, moving the ball seemed easy.
“I don’t where (Kiser) went in the first half,” Franke said. “He got down on himself; he got frustrated, and then he kinda lost composure. You could see it. He just needs to get to the next play.”
Cedar scored one more time on its second possession of the second half when Fakahua found Derek Ball for the 30-yard touchdown, giving the underdog Redmen a 17-6 lead.
After that touchdown, it seemed like the Thunder offense could do no wrong. Kiser found Logan Hokanson for a 20-yard touchdown. The two-point try was unsuccessful again, leaving the score at 17-12.
“(Kiser) has got that ability all the time,” Franke said. “When we got the ball back, we were able to put a drive together. We knew we had some mismatches on the outside to get the receivers more in the game.”
Kiser found Braxton Porter to finally put DH ahead in the game with 6:14 to go in the fourth quarter. The lead stayed at one point, 18-17, after the third failed two-point conversion.
Cedar looked poised to take the game on its final drive, but when the drive stalled, Cedar looked for a hero in its kicker. DH’s Hoppie blitzed through and got a hand on the kick, helping the ball sail wide left.
Desert Hills, which has won six straight against Cedar, next plays Hurricane Friday at 7 p.m. at Thunder Stadium. DH, 4-1 overall, will face a Tiger team that is 3-2 overall and 1-0 in region.
“Hurricane (has done) more spread this year, so we obviously have to prepare for that,” Sewell said.
Cedar, 3-2 and 0-1, will host its fourth straight home game Friday when the Dixie Flyers come calling. Kickoff is at at 7 p.m.
“Obviously there’s a lot of improvements we have to make,” Bennett said. “I’m proud of how we fought tonight. It’s going to be a challenge getting the kids back up for another great team coming in, so we’re going to have to be ready to go.”
Hurricane 22, Snow Canyon 16
Written by Bob Hudson
Running backs have their own idea of what beauty is..
“The line opened up holes just like they were supposed to and I ran hard just like I was told to,” Cordova said.
His coach agreed.
“Jaron ran super-hard and the offensive line did a solid job,” said Tiger coach Steve Pearson. “In the second half, (Snow Canyon) made adjustments and we had to fight through.
“Overall we did a good job of moving the chains and our defense did a great job.”
Pearson credited assistant coach Gordon Dotson with getting the line ready each week. He noted that they have been working together for 15 years.
“Coach does a great job with the offensive line. They’re the heart and soul of what we do.”
In their home stadium, the Tigers (1-0, 3-2) rolled up 384 yards of total offense while keeping the ball for 36 of the 48 minutes. Snow Canyon (0-1, 2-3) finished with 181 yards.
Cordova scored his first touchdown on a 7-yard jaunt to cap a 12-play, 68-yard drive. He had 51 yards on the drive. After a Warrior penalty on the point-after, Cordova scored on a two-point conversion run.
Five minutes later, Joe Armijo scored on an 18-yard run to cap an 8-play, 78-yard drive. Trevor Stackhouse kicked the point-after, making it 15-0 with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
Neither team scored in the second quarter, although the Warriors reached the Hurricane 6 before stalling. Brecken Anderson had a 34-yard run to get things started.
After that, Hurricane went on a 20-play (!), 90-yard drive before stalling at the Warrior 5-yard line just before halftime.
Snow Canyon opened the second half by going 63 yards in 12 plays to close within 15-7. Chris Poulsen caught a 20-yard pass from Matt Kitchen for the score. Kellen Barber tacked on the point-after.
Following a Hurricane three-and-out, the Warriors took over at the Tiger 44 and took eight plays to get into the end zone.
Initially, the Tiger defense stopped them, forcing a 42-yard Barber field goal try, which he missed. But Hurricane was whistled for a penalty. Given another chance, Poulsen went 19 yards for the touchdown. But the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 15-13, Tigers.
An 89-yard drive in which Armijo had a 37-yard catch of a Josh Parker pass and Cordova had a 28-yard run gave Hurricane some breathing room. Cordova scored from 2 yards away with 10:55 remaining in the game. Stackhouse’s PAT made it 22-13.
On its next possession, Hurricane stalled at its own 36. The Warriors couldn’t do anything and, on fourth-and-11, it appeared Poulsen had caught a long pass along the sideline. But the official on the play ruled that Poulsen was out-of-bounds on the play.
In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, the Warriors moved from their 42 to the Tiger 24 before sending Barber in to try a 42-yard field goal. He made the kick, but Hurricane ran out the clock after recovering an onside kick. Kitchen hit Brooks Sampson with passes of 23 and 19 yards on the field goal drive.
Isaiah Johnson was Hurricane’s defensive leader with 6.5 tackles. Kaleb Gates led the Warriors with 12.5 tackles.
Parker was 9 of 15 for 151 yards to lead Hurricane. Riley Ballard had three catches for 51 yards. Mike Lacy had two for 26 yards. Poulsen led Snow Canyon with 14 yards rushing. Sampson had three catches for 59 yards. Zack Nowatzke had two for 36.
Hurricane, which had four different drives of at least nine plays in the game (including that monster 20-play, 10 minute drive in the second quarter), held the ball for 36:21 of the game’s 48 minutes. HHS ran 71 plays to just 41 for Snow Canyon.
The Tigers, 3-2 overall and 1-0 in region play, will face a stiff test in region favorite Desert Hills next Friday night at Thunder Stadium.
The Warriors, 2-3 and 0-1, travel to Pine View. Last season, the Warriors and Panthers battled in a scoreless tie through two overtimes before PV finally pulled out an 8-6 triple OT victory.
Canyon View 38, Manti 10
In Manti, Isaiah Shearer scored two touchdowns and the Falcons broke the game open with 24 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away from the Templars.
It was a 6-3 game late in the second quarter when Canyon View was able to punch one in from 2-yards out to make it 14-3 at the half.
But the third quarter was huge for CV, with Porter Miller starting the run with a 20-yard scoop and score fumble recovery. Stockton Rigby rushed one in from close and then Conner Rigtrup collected a pick-six with a 35-yard interception return. The Falcons made all three two-point conversions to push the lead to 38-3.
Manti added a late touchdown, but CV had already bagged its first win of the season. The Falcons, 1-4 overall, are tied for first with a 1-0 3A South record (along with Juab and Delta).
Canyon View plays at home against Richfield next Friday.
Enterprise 24, North Sevier 0
The second quarter was huge for the Wolves, who are off to their best start ever as a football program at 5-0 on the season.
Enterprise broke open a scoreless tie with three straight TDs in the second, including two short scores by Caleb Koopmans. Jayson Holt added a 5-yard rush for TD and EHS kicker Omar Morales chipped in with a 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves’ stunning start is keyed by defense. Enterprise has allowed just 38 points in five games (7.6 points a game). The Wolves have two shutouts already this season.
Enterprise travels to San Juan next Friday night.
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