ST. GEORGE – The Snow Canyon Warriors had a lot of questions coming into the season. Several were answered Friday night in their 49-14 win over visiting Uintah Friday night at Warrior Stadium.
“Austin (Staheli) not only passed the ball well, but he made great decisions,” said Snow Canyon head coach Mike Esplin. “Not just on his passes, but also in the run-option game. Both of our lines did a great job tonight in the trenches. We got penetration and disrupted what they wanted to do. On offense, they kept their guys out of the backfield on passing plays and did a great job in the run game.”
Things were not so rosy early as the Warriors fumbled away their first possession on the third play from scrimmage. They got the ball back shortly after, though, as the Utes went for it on fourth-and-2. SC defensive tackle Spencer Snow grabbed both the runner and his lead blocker and knocked them to the ground.
On the ensuing drive for the Warriors, Staheli completed all four of his passes for 52 yards. Tosh Wright then barreled in from 1-yard out for the initial score. Andy Day’s extra point made it 7-0 with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
On the Utes next possession, the Warrior D came up big again as the Utes once again went for it on fourth-and-1. And again they were knocked backwards, giving the Warriors the ball at the Uintah 28-yard line.
“I was surprised that they went for it again,” said Snow. “Especially so deep in their own territory. It certainly fired us up and we got our offense great field position.”
It took Staheli only one play to get the Warriors back on the scoreboard. A 28-yard pass to Austin Anderson up the Warrior sideline gave the Warriors a 14-0 lead. That was how the first quarter would end.
On the first play of the second quarter, and the first play of Snow Canyon’s next possession, SC running back Jase Mendenhall took a handoff, swept around the left side, juked two would-be tacklers and ran 83 yards to pay dirt to give the Warriors a 21-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Wright rumbled 60 yards up the middle before being brought down at the 5. He would get his second touchdown on the next play as he dragged defenders into the end zone for the 5-yard score.
The Utes finally got on the board late in the first half. They got their initial first down of the game with 2:25 to play in the half. Thirty seconds later, quarterback Kyle Henderson found wideout Caleb Petree out in the flat. Petree juggled the ball for a few yards then took advantage of two great blocks downfield to score the 70-yard touchdown. The Utes were on the board 28-7.
Snow Canyon opened the scoring in the second half on their first possession. Makai Lee took a pitch and ran around the left side for a 20-yard TD run. Day’s PAT gave Snow Canyon a 35-7 edge.
The Utes answered on their next possession. A 63-yard run by Henderson got them to the Warrior 1-yard line. Three plays later, Daegun Oaks got the final yard to get the score to 35-14. The Utes would not even sniff the end zone the rest of the night.
“(Uintah) got two big plays on us,” said Esplin. “One was a breakdown that should have been shut down. But apart from those two plays, we held them in check for the night.”
It took Snow Canyon less than two minutes to put the ball in the end zone again. A quick pass from Staheli to Lee resulted in Lee racing 60 yards before being caught at the Ute 5-yard line. Two plays later, Staheli faked the handoff and took the ball up the middle unscathed to move the score to 42-14.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors scored again on their first possession. And again it was on their first play from scrimmage. Staheli found Brooks Sampson behind his man deep downfield. The catch and run resulted in a 63-yard touchdown. From that point, Esplin played his backups. Neither team threatened the remainder of the game until the very end, when backup quarterback Jase Mendenhall drove the Warriors to the Uintah 3-yard line. However, Esplin decided to run out the clock and take the 49-14 win.
Staheli completed 12 of 18 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He completed passes to eight different receivers.
“I have a great offensive line,” said Staheli. “And I also have quite an arsenal of talent, both at the receiver spot and coming out of the backfield.”
Mendenhall led the team with 110 yards rushing. Wright had 82 yards to go with his two scores. Sampson and Lee led the team in reception yards with 78 and 71, respectively. Mendenhall had 66 yards on a team-leading four catches.
Defensively, Snow led the team with seven tackles and a sack. Miles Reynolds also recorded a sack with 6.5 tackles, three of those for losses. Wyatt Parry got Snow Canyon’s sole interception.
Snow Canyon will host Ridgeline next week. Ridgeline lost to Spanish Fork Friday night 22-8.
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