3AA Playoffs: Blocked punts, turnovers doom Tigers against Bear River

File photo by Todd Ellis

GARLAND – Mistakes and messy play in a cold, wet Bears Stadium ended the season for Hurricane with Friday’s 20-13 loss to Bear River in the first round of the 3AA playoffs.

hurricane-logobear-river-smBear River broke a 13-13 tie on a Gage Keneko 5-yard TD run with 2:14 left in the game, a score that capped a 70-yard drive marred by two Hurricane pass interference penalties. After the second one, which would have brought the ball to the Hurricane 20, the Tigers also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The two fouls moved the football to the 5-yard line, where Kaneko scored on the next play.

But with just over two minutes remaining, Hurricane quarterback Josh Parker had a chance to drive the Tigers 80 yards to tie or take the lead and extend the Tigers’ season. Parker got 13 yards on his first pass to receiver Mike Lacy to advance to the Tiger 33-yard line.

Hurricane's Mike Lacy (13), file photo from Desert Hills vs. Hurricane, Football, St. George, Utah, Sept. 23, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Hurricane’s Mike Lacy (13) had a good game vs. Bear River. File photo from Desert Hills vs. Hurricane, Football, St. George, Utah, Sept. 23, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

His next pass fell incomplete and on second and third downs, the Bear rush got to Parker for two consecutive sacks and a resultant fourth-and-22 with 47 seconds remaining. Parker’s pass was intercepted by Bear defensive back Judd Miller, effectively ending the game and the Tigers’ season.

After a scoreless first quarter and most of the second quarter, the two teams would score on their last possessions of the first half. Hurricane would strike first. Tiger defensive back Adam Heyrand stepped in front of a Bear pass and returned the ball 44 yards for a pick-six and a Tiger 7-0 lead with 44 seconds left in the half.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and gave the Bears possession at their own 35-yard line. Bear quarterback Kaygen Canfield completed three consecutive passes, all for first downs, to stop the clock and drive the ball to the Hurricane 12-yard line.

Another pass put the Bears at the 5-yard line with six seconds remaining. After a Bear River timeout, Kaneko rushed the remaining 5 yards. The Bears failed on the extra point, but pulled within 7-6 just seconds before halftime.

Bad luck struck the Tigers on their first possession of the second half. Unable to secure a first down, Hurricane was forced to punt. However, the Bears got to the punter and blocked it, recovering the ball at the Hurricane 2-yard line. On the next play, Kaneko got his second touchdown with the short dive. Bear River led for the first time, 13-7, with just over two minutes gone in the third.

The third quarter woes continued. A turnover ended Hurricane’s next drive. On the Tigers’ next possession of the third quarter, the Bears blocked Hurricane’s punt for a second time, this time taking over possession at the Hurricane 22-yard line. Kolby Heaton gave the Tigers a reprieve when he intercepted Canfield’s pass to give the ball back to Hurricane at their 26-yard line.

Hurricane's Josh Parker (7), file photo from Desert Hills vs. Hurricane, Football, St. George, Utah, Sept. 23, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Hurricane’s Josh Parker (7), file photo from Desert Hills vs. Hurricane, Football, St. George, Utah, Sept. 23, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Parker drove the offense 74 yards in 12 plays to get Hurricane’s second score of the game. The Tigers converted on two fourth downs in the drive that culminated in an 8-yard run by running back Joe Armijo. The PAT was unsuccessful, but the score was knotted at 13-13 with just over nine minutes remaining in the game.

The two teams traded turnovers with the latter giving Bear River the ball at their own 30-yard line. The Bears drove the 70 yards in six plays. Forty-five of those yards came on Tiger penalties. With 2:14 on the clock, Kaneko ran for his third touchdown of the game from 5 yards out, giving the Bears the lead at 20-13.

For the game, Hurricane outgained the Bears by the slim margin of 229-227 yards. There were seven interceptions in the game, with the Tigers snaring four of them. Individually for Hurricane, Parker completed 9 of 21 passes for 185 yards. His favorite target was Lacy, who gained 105 yards on five catches. Jaron Cordova led the team with 59 yards rushing.

Defensively, linebacker Isaiah Johnson led the team with 12 tackles. Cale Landis had eight. In addition to Heyrand, Landis, Noah Humphrey and Heaton all had one interception.

After starting the season 3-2 and winning their opening region game against Snow Canyon, the Tigers lost their last five games to end 3-7 on the year. Three of their losses came by one score or less.

Bear River will travel down the state and play at Dixie next Friday with game time likely 4 p.m.

Stats: Bear River 20, Hurricane 13

3AA Playoff bracket (via UHSAA.org)

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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