4 Region 10 football teams taste victory on season’s opening night

ST. GEORGE — In the opening week of the high school football season, all three Region 10 teams that played at home picked up wins Friday night. Snow Canyon and Desert Hills both picked up double-digit wins, while Hurricane withstood a late Richfield rally to win by two points.

Meanwhile on the road, top-ranked Pine View won at Salem Hills. The Panthers were the only Region 10 team to win away from home, as Dixie, Cedar and Crimson Cliffs all fell in their respective road games.

Snow Canyon 27, Cyprus 12

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty for the Snow Canyon Warriors, but as they say in football, a win is a win.

A key third quarter touchdown pass from junior Hunter Johnson to fellow junior Jake Hill broke open a close game and Snow Canyon went on to beat Cyprus.

Snow Canyon beat Cyprus in a non-region football game, St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2021 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

“Jake’s by far the fastest kid on our team and as soon as I saw him get by the corner I knew he had it,” Johnson said. “He can jump so high. He’s one of our best receivers. I just threw it up to him and I knew he was going to execute.”

After starting to learn the Snow Canyon system in the fifth grade, Johnson made his varsity debut and had a rocky start at first.

“I think we executed pretty well but we could have done better,” Johnson said. “It was a little bit nerve wracking at the beginning. I shouldn’t have been, but I was nervous and it showed in the first half.”

Snow Canyon got on the board in the second quarter when Johnson found Brooks Esplin for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Corbin Christian’s kick made it 7-0 for the home team.

Cyprus responded with a touchdown pass of its own, but the kick failed and the visitors were down 7-6 at halftime.

Johnson’s second TD toss was a 47-yard gem to Will Warner, and Christian’s kick made it 14-6 early in the third.

Action was bogged down for several minutes as both teams looked to gain the momentum. That was when, with three seconds left in the quarter, Johnson connected with Hill from 18 yards out.

Hill’s grab was the highlight of the game, as he held onto the ball and just managed to get a foot in the end zone as he was being pushed out of bounds by a Cyprus defender.

Snow Canyon receiver Jake Hill makes a play against Cyprus in a non-region football game, St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2021 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

“We called that play and our quarterback knew he could throw it to me and I would go up and get that ball,” Hill said. “He threw it in a perfect spot and I just went up and got the catch.”

Christian’s kick failed but the Warriors were ahead for good at 20-6. Cyprus rallied midway through the fourth quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run, making it 20-12.

But Snow Canyon needed just 41 seconds to respond. After a great kickoff return by Brayden Jones took the ball all the way to the Cyprus 18-yard line, Johnson capped a quick drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Christian’s extra-point kick provided the final margin.

Johnson had a debut to remember as QB1 at Snow Canyon, passing for 187 yards and accounting for all four Warriors touchdowns in the game.

Snow Canyon has a lot to work on but all the signs Friday night pointed to serious potential for the Warriors.

“We had a lot of kids that had never started on varsity before, and after the first half, they really locked in and we were ready to go,” Hill said. “I think we can build on this momentum and get some more wins.”

Hurricane 28, Richfield 26

At Hurricane, the Tigers faced 3A’s Richfield Wildcats in a see-saw battle, ultimately coming up with a couple key defensive stops at the end to preserve the two-point win.

Richfield football at Hurricane, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 13, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St,. George News

“It wasn’t pretty, but sometimes you’ve got to take things where they come from,” said Hurricane coach Cory Ashby after winning his first game as the team’s new head coach.

The game was more than a half hour late getting started due to a lightning delay, but once things got started, it was Richfield that that got off to a better start, taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. 

“It took us a little bit to get going, but once we did, I think we did pretty well,” Ashby said.

After Richfield went up 13-0 on the last play of the first quarter, Hurricane’s Hunter Prince ran back the kickoff to start the second quarter 95 yards for a TD, getting the Tigers on the board. 

A few minutes after Prince’s electrifying runback, Hurricane quarterback Carter Ashby, the coach’s son, found receiver RJ Wright in the end zone for a TD pass, putting the Tigers ahead 14-13. Later in the second quarter, Hurricane tacked on another passing touchdown, this one from Ashby to Ashton Williams, to take a 21-13 halftime lead.

Midway through the third quarter Ashby found Wright again, this time for a 60-yard scoring pass, putting Hurricane up 28-13.

Richfield rallied at the end, scoring two late touchdowns to get back in the game. However, the Wildcats missed a field goal and later had a potentially game-tying two-point pass conversion attempt deflected by the Tigers with 2:23 left. 

Richfield made one more last-minute attempt to get back in field goal range, but Toryen Haynes intercepted the ball with 10 seconds left, sealing the win for Hurricane. 

“The kids did an awesome job,” coach Ashby said. “They all came out to play tonight. We had some penalties early that worked against us, but we’re not going to make excuses. We’ve got some things to clean up. But they didn’t give up — they just hung in there and did what they needed to do to come away with the win.”

— written by Jeff Richards

Desert Hills 45, San Juan 20

Senior Awsten Turnbow made Thunder head coach Rick Berry a winner in his first game at Desert Hills when he intercepted four passes, two in each half, including a pick-six that iced the game in the fourth quarter.

Desert Hills defense lines up against San Juan in a non-region football game, St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2021 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

The Thunder stormed out of the gate, scoring three first-half touchdowns off of San Juan turnovers and racing to a 32-14 lead at halftime.  

Desert Hills junior quarterback Noah Fuailetolo ran for two scores in the contest and threw for two more, the prettiest on an 80-yard scoring bomb to Lincoln Holmes in the second quarter.

Holmes also ran for a touchdown in the big win and Turnbow caught a touchdown pass. Jake Wilkins rumbled for a score and the Thunder piled up the points in the victory.

Pine View 38, Salem Hills 27

Top-ranked Pine View struggled on the road at Salem Hills, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter before rallying to win behind three scores in the second quarter and two more touchdowns in the third.

Senior running back Keith Adams had a memorable debut for the Panthers, scoring three rushing touchdowns on scampers of 60, 37 and 11 yards.  

Byron Cullison threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kyson Milne and Ryan Jordan notched a 2-yard touchdown run in the Pine View victory.

The Panthers defense locked down on Salem Hills in the second half and Pine View kicker Austin Kogan nailed a 29-yard field goal to provide the final margin. 

Green Canyon 17, Crimson Cliffs 13

After a valiant effort put the Crimson Cliffs Mustangs ahead on the road in North Logan 13-7 at halftime, Green Canyon’s defense shut out the visitors in the second half and the Wolves prevailed in a hard-fought game. 

Crimson Cliffs jumped ahead 10-0 behind Ryan Woolley’s 25-yard field goal and a 46-yard touchdown pass from Chase Hansen to Kona Crowell.

Green Canyon seized back the momentum with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Caden Stuart.

The Mustangs answered with an impressive 52-yard field goal by Woolley with 10 seconds left in the first half. 

But Crimson Cliffs would not find the end zone again, while the Wolves got 10 second-half points to secure the contest.

Springville 41, Dixie 10

Dixie managed just a 35-yard field goal by Jonathan Bibiano and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bronson Barben to Jaxon Barben in the Flyers’ loss to Springville on the road.

Cole Clement had two touchdown receptions and Seth Rigtrup ran for 116 yards and a touchdown for the Red Devils.

Spanish Fork 34, Cedar 7

At Spanish Fork, the Dons ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown, setting the tone for what ended up being a long night for the Cedar Reds. Cedar did get on the board late in the game with a touchdown pass from DJ Warren to Koden Lunt.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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