Lions survive hot and dirty Vegas, grab win over Trojans

Photo courtesy Zion Lions

LAS VEGAS – Prentiss Miller had two long runs and the Zion Lions persevered on the road for a 28-12 win Saturday over the Las Vegas Trojans.

Playing at Western High School, the Lions had to survive a warm, windy day on a field with very little actual grass (mostly dirt), poorly drawn lines and a non-working scoreboard.

“It was a little confusing as we had no clock or scoreboard to look at,” Lions head coach Dale Stott said. “It wasn’t the best environment to play in, but our defense in particular played a great game. I can see why the Trojans have won a lot of games. They’re big and they’re fast. And very physical.”

Zion never trailed in the game, though it was close until the fourth quarter. Dom Vargas picked off a Trojans pass on the first drive of the game. On the next play, Miller busted off a 50-yard run down inside the Vegas 5-yard line. On the next play, the ball was snapped over quarterback Michael Matalolo’s head. But the Lions converted on a long third down when Matalolo found Clifton Smith right up the middle of the field for a 20-yard touchdown. Dillon Bishoff’s extra point made it 7-0.

The Trojans got on the scoreboard late in the half after a deep ball set up a short run. They went for a two-point conversion after the score, but the Lions stuffed the try and the score was 7-6 at halftime.

“I played a cover-three most of the game because I was worried about their speed,” said Stott, who is also the defensive coordinator for the Lions. “We only blitzed four times in the game, but caused a turnover two of those times. Maybe I should have blitzed more.”

Michael Matalolo (3) throws a touchdown pass Saturday against Vegas | Screen cap courtesy Zion Lions

Stott drew up a play at halftime to get Miller a carry against a defense that had been overplaying the zone read. Zion ran it on the first play from scrimmage in the second half and it worked like a charm as Miller scampered 62 yards for a score. Bishoff’s PAT made it 14-6.

The Trojans responded with a drive that culminated in a 50-yard touchdown pass. The TD cut it to 14-12, but the Zion defense again stuffed the two-point try and it remained a two-point game heading into the fourth quarter.

Zion started to wear the Trojans down in the fourth quarter. The Lions upped the lead to 21-12 when Matalolo found Saitaua Lafau from 30-yards out for his second TD pass of the game. After a Vegas turnover, Miller scored his second TD of the game from 13 yards out to make it 28-12 and clinch the road win.

“It was a very physical game and very heated,” Stott said. “Prentiss ran the ball well. He had about 130 yards rushing and those two TDs. Matalolo had his first interception of the year, but he also threw two TD passes and he now has eight of those on the season.”

The Lions, 3-0, return home for a big game next Saturday night. The Wasatch Revolution, who Zion has played the last three straight years in the league championship, visits Panther Stadium with game time at 7 p.m. The Rev are 3-0 and beat Cedar Saturday night.

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