Zion Lions whip Davis Vipers, improve to 3-0

Zion Lions' Dudley Leaupepe (24), Zion Lions vs. Davis Vipers, St. George, Utah, Apr. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Zion Lions stayed undefeated with a convincing 54-6 thrashing of the visiting Davis Vipers at Pine View High School’s Panther Stadium Saturday night.

Having to settle for a forfeit in their last game when the visiting team from Las vegas decided it was not ready to face the Lions, one would expect a little rust from the home team. That thought quickly dissipated when Prentiss Miller took the handoff on the first play and ran 69 yards to the Davis Vipers’ 1-yard line.

“We ran that play successfully against them last year,” said Lions head coach Dale Stott. “Prentiss has amazing quickness. Once he gets past the line he is hard to catch. We prepared for this game just like we did when we faced the Rev. We practiced twice this week. Last week we hardly practiced at all. This year we kept fewer players. But they are good and committed.”

Zion Lions’ Brandon Thompson (21), Zion Lions vs. Davis Vipers, St. George, Utah, Apr. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Discussing the depth of this year’s team Stott said, “We don’t have a first team or second team. They are all first-teamers. We still platoon, but the talent level we have with each player is top level.”

The second play from scrimmage gave the Vipers hope as Lions quarterback Diarra Fields was intercepted in the end zone. That hope did not last long, however, as the Vipers fumbled on their first play. Lions defensive tackle Taris Schramm recovered the ball.

Three plays later, Jorey Hansen went off tackle for the 3-yard TD run. The hold went awry on the extra point, but the Lions held the early lead 6-0 with less than four minutes gone.

Zion Lions’ Dominic Vargas (12) heads to the end zone for a pick six, Zion Lions vs. Davis Vipers, St. George, Utah, Apr. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

After a Viper punt went only 10 yards, Zion took over on the Viper 39-yard line. Rimo Mapu started the short drive with a 26-yard run and finished it two plays later with an 8-yard run for the score. The Lions went for two, but the pass fell incomplete. With just over six minutes remaining in the first, the score was 12-0.

After the two teams traded punts, Davis put together its best drive of the night on its next possession, starting at midfield. After getting a first down, Viper quarterback Schuyler Sherwood caught the Lion defense in a busted coverage. His 33-yard pass found receiver Blair Morris all by himself in the corner of the end zone at the close of the first quarter. The PAT was blocked, but the Vipers halved the lead to 12-6.

Zion Lions’ Pat Au (53), Zion Lions vs. Davis Vipers, St. George, Utah, Apr. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Unfortunately for Davis, those would be the only points they could muster all night. On the Lions next possession, it took them less than a minute to score. Fields found Justin Fulton for a 71-yard catch-and-run. With Dillon Bishoff’s PAT, the score was 19-6.

After a Viper punt, Lions’ receiver Clifton Smith ran the ball 55 yards on a reverse play. With 8:25 remaining in the half, the lead was 26-6.

On the following kickoff, the Viper return man thought that the kick was headed out of the end zone. When it became apparent that it would not, instead of downing the ball for a touchback, he picked the ball up and barely made it out of the end zone to the 1-yard line to begin the drive.

Zion Lions’ Josh Ford (1), Zion Lions vs. Davis Vipers, St. George, Utah, Apr. 22, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The Vipers did get a first down on a 13-yard pass. But on the next play, Lion cornerback Dom Vargas jumped the Viper pattern, picked off Sherwood and raced 11 yards for the pick-six.

On the Lions’ last possession of the half, Fields marched the offense down the field in big chunks. Miller had a 32-yard run to open the drive. Josh Ford caught a Fields pass on a hook pattern, shook off the defender, then raced to the end zone for the 38-yard TD. The score at the half was 40-6.

In the second half, the Lions would run clock. They still scored a touchdown in each of the last two quarters. The first came on a 20-yard TD catch by Jorey Hansen on a swing pattern out of the backfield.

The last came near the end of the game when Bishoff had two catches on the drive, with the last one a 21-yard TD grab with 1:48 remaining.

One apparent difference this year for the Lions was the use of the multiple weapons at quarterback Fields’ disposal.

“He makes good reads,” said Stott. “He rarely makes mistakes.”

As a team, the Lions outgained Davis 467-36 yards. Individually, Fields completed 10 of 19 passes for 210 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Miller led the team with 137 yards rushing. Smith and Mapu ran for 62 and 50 yards, respectively.

Fields threw to seven different receivers. None caught more than two passes.

“We have talent at the skill positions,” said Bishoff. “Actually, we have talent all over on both sides of the ball.”

Fulton, Bishoff and Ford each had two catches for 72, 52 and 42 yards, respectively.

With the win, the Lions move to 3-0. They will host the Utah Shock next week at Panther Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Vipers fall to 0-2.



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