ST. GEORGE – The Desert Hills Thunder used preseason 3AA South co-player of the year Nephi Sewell to bulldoze through the Pine View defense and solidify its second-place standing in the region with the 36-19 victory over the Panthers.
“We have been running the ball more this year,” said Thunder head coach Carl Franke. “Our play calling usually depends on what the defense gives us, but with Nephi, we get positive yardage no matter what they do. It takes a swarm of defenders to bring him down.”
The heavily-recruited Sewell carried the ball 19 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive momentum swung the Thunder’s way early in the game. After an early Panther field goal, Desert Hills ran off 19 straight points. The first came late in the first quarter on a 12-yard run by Brock Parry on the left side. Early in the second, Sewell matched it with one of his own from 14-yards out.
Later in the first half, Parry added a touchdown reception. It was set up by a 52-yard run by Sewell on the drive. With 5:41 left in the half, the Thunder lead was 19-3.
The Panthers answered on the next drive. Quarterback Ryan Javines drove Pine View 70 yards in three minutes. The last play of the drive was a 44-yard TD pass to Dylan Hendrickson. The two-point conversion failed and the score read 19-9 with 2:35 remaining.
A Thunder penalty allowed Pine View to kick off from the Thunder 45-yard line. They took advantage and recovered an onside kick. Two plays later, Javines found Hendrickson again on the exact same play from 33-yards out. With the PAT, Pine View narrowed the gap 19-16 before the teams went to the locker rooms.
Coming out after halftime, the Thunder started the third quarter with their sole turnover of the game. Pine View defensive back Dallin Brown stepped in front of a Quinn Kiser pass to get the ball for the Panthers.
They could not take advantage, however. The teams would trade punts over the next two possessions due to great defense. Pine View got deep into Thunder territory when Javines found running back Jacob Mpungi on a 42-yard pass. The Thunder defense responded with two consecutive sacks, forcing Pine View to settle for a game-tying 30-yard field goal by Connor Brooksby. With 1:42 left, the score was tied 19-19.
After Desert Hills matched the PVHS field goal on its next possession to go up 22-19, Thunder safety Ryan Hoppie intercepted a Javines pass and returned the ball 28 yards deep into Pine View territory. After a turnover on downs the Thunder D forced a three-and-out. Desert Hills took over on its 38-yard line and three plays later, Kiser kept the ball on an option play and ran untouched 21 yards into the end zone. With 4:41 left in the game, the Thunder lead was 29-19.
After another three-and-out by the Panthers, Sewell finished the ensuing Thunder 59-yard drive with a 2-yard dive to put the final nail in Pine View’s coffin with 1:33 remaining.
Pine View was unable to put up another score before the clock ran out. The win elevates Desert Hills to 3-1 in region play and 6-2 overall. The Thunder will host Snow Canyon (after next week’s bye) in two weeks. Pine View falls to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in Region 9. The Panthers will host Cedar in two weeks.
For more on this game and the rest of the 3AA South Friday night lights, including video, photos, quotes, stats and insight, go to Saturday Breakdown on St. George News Saturday morning.
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