ST. GEORGE — A shocking night of upsets saw three Region 10 high school football teams win on the road Friday night, throwing the race for the region title up for grabs.
Crimson Cliffs and Cedar each posted strong wins while the Dixie Flyers went to Pine View and handed the No. 1 team in 4A its first region loss in three years.
Additionally, Desert Hills, which played a non-region contest at North Sanpete, also picked up a road win in a rout of the Hawks.
Dixie 31, Pine View 28
The story of the game read like a Hollywood movie script.
Pine View rolled to a first-half lead behind touchdowns from its superstars.
Dominique McKenzie caught two touchdown bombs from Sawyer Woods, the first for 63 yards and the second for 53 yards. Keith Adams took it to the house on a 14-yard sweep.
Shea Anderson answered for Dixie, scoring on a 3-yard run. Seth Takau found Derek Kesterson for a 13-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the second quarter and Pine View led at halftime 21-13.
Then the Flyers fumbled on their second play of the second half, leading to another touchdown from Adams, this one a 10-yard burst. Pine View was in command at 28-13.
After that, it was all Dixie.
“The team came together. This was by far the best game we’ve played all year,” Dixie coach Blaine Monkres said. “The kids just came out and battled, everyone of them. I’m proud of all of our guys.”
Dixie started its rally with a 39-yard field goal from Jonathan Bibiano, cutting the lead to 28-16 at 4:23 of the third quarter.
After a three-and-out by Pine View, Jeffrey Christian ripped off an 11-yard scoring scamper for Dixie.
Lined up for the extra point, a bad snap forced holder Derek Kesterson to scramble. He evaded the rush and threw a long pass to Mason Kesterson for a miracle 2-point conversion and Dixie trailed just 28-24.
And then the Flyers iced it on the ensuing Panthers possession. Senior cornerback Jakheo Mitchell dropped back in the secondary and intercepted Woods, returning it for 41 yards and a pick-six. Bibiano’s extra point provided the final margin of victory.
“We knew their quarterback likes to throw it deep a lot, and that’s what we covered mostly,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been talking about winning this game since freshman year. It was a good win for us all as a team.”
Pine View had one last chance, and the Panthers drove down the field until they faced a third down on Dixie’s 24 yard line with 26 seconds left. Woods threw to the goal line and Dixie’s Mamao Tofi intercepted it and sent the Flyers victory formation onto the field.
When the final horn sounded, Dixie quarterback Seth Takau collapsed on the field and sobbed uncontrollably. Speaking to St. George News, it was easy to see why the teenager was overcome with emotion.
“I just moved over here (to Dixie),” Takau said. “My dad died last month and we switched from Pine View. He always wanted the best for me.”
So Dixie won its biggest game in three years behind a backup quarterback who was playing for Pine View last year.
“I couldn’t have done it without this team. Couldn’t have done it without my O-line and my D-line and defense,” Takau said. “Couldn’t have done it without God. God’s the only one that made us do it. It was only God.”
Cedar 35, Hurricane 14
After a slow first half at Hurricane, the Cedar Reds came on strong in the second half to defeat the Tigers, 35-14.
Hurricane scored first, on a 39-yard TD pass from Carter Ashby to receiver RJ Wright late in the first quarter.
Hurricane maintained that 7-0 lead for most of the second quarter, as Cedar turned the ball over twice, once on an interception and once on a fumble.
But then late in the second quarter, Cedar’s sophomore southpaw quarterback Koden Lunt connected with receiver Braxtan Torres, who advanced the ball to the Hurricane 13-yard line. Shortly thereafter, Ben Ellis broke into the end zone for a 1-yard TD run, tying the score 7-7 with 35 seconds left in the first half.
On Hurricane’s next play from scrimmage, Torres intercepted a pass by Ashby and ran it back to the 5-yard line. However, Cedar was unable to capitalize, running three unsuccessful plays, then missing a field goal attempt with 4 seconds left. That left the score tied 7-7 at the half.
Early in the third quarter, Cedar scored on its first possession after taking over at midfield following a Hurricane punt. Lunt completed a long pass to Conner Hardman, who advanced it to the 1-yard line before being knocked out of bounds. Lunt then ran it into the end zone for a TD, giving the Reds a 14-7 lead.
Hurricane’s next possession saw them get backed up almost to the goal line, and the Tigers’ ensuing punt didn’t go far, giving the Reds the ball back inside the red zone. Soon after, Ellis rushed for his second TD with 5:18 left in the third, putting Cedar ahead 21-7.
Cedar’s Kas’n Crandall added a TD reception early in the fourth quarter, which was followed a few minutes later by yet another rushing TD by Lund. That capped off a string of 35 unanswered points by Cedar.
Hurricane did manage to make one more score, on a 35-yard pass from Ashby to Wright with just over two minutes to play.
“We just played with more heart in the second half and wanted it more than they did,” Lunt said after the game.
Added Cedar head coach Josh Bennett: “Offensively, we were able to get into a rhythm in the second half. We challenged our offensive line at halftime, and they stepped up and played well.”
“I’m proud of our kids to respond the way they responded,” Bennett added. “I guess we’d love to see that for four quarters. Tonight, we played about half a game, so I’m hoping that continues and we continue to get better. We made some great adjustments and the kids played hard the second half.”
Cedar, which improved to 1-1 in Region 10 play with the win, hosts Pine View next Friday. Meanwhile, Hurricane, which fell to 0-2 in region, hosts Snow Canyon next week.
— written by Jeff Richards
Crimson Cliffs 20, Snow Canyon 7
The Mustangs rallied from a 7-0 deficit at halftime and got some magic from their special teams to pull off the big road win.
Snow Canyon started the scoring in the first quarter when Hunter Johnson threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brooks Esplin.
The Mustangs seized the momentum late in the third quarter when they blocked a punt and Wai Kaonohi recovered it for a touchdown.
Crimson Cliffs scored again just 24 seconds later when Nick Baum charged into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.
Corbin Cuff’s pick-six off of Johnson that covered 65 yards sealed the deal for Crimson Cliffs, which improved to 1-1 in region play with the win.
Desert Hills 43, North Sanpete 7
On the road at Mount Pleasant in non-region action, the Thunder scored 22 points in the first quarter and 21 points in the second to build a big lead over North Sanpete.
There ended up being no second half, as the game was called at halftime due to lightning.
Noah Fuailetolo threw three touchdown passes in the win for Desert Hills. Two of them went to Awsten Turnbow, for 11 and 35 yards. His third went to Lincoln Holmes for a 63-yard score.
Three members of the Thunder recorded rushing touchdowns in the win: Gavin Ortiz for 4 yards, Zach Ford for 19 yards and Jordan Nunley scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Desert Hills improved to 4-1 overall on the season after the victory.
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