Region 10 football recap: Desert Hills stays unbeaten in region; Dixie, Crimson Cliffs both win shutouts

ST. GEORGE — There were two shutouts and a nail biter in Region 10 football around St. George on Friday night.

Dixie rolled to a big homecoming win, Crimson Cliffs dominated on the road and at Desert Hills, the Thunder and Snow Canyon played the game of the year so far in Region 10 gridiron action.

Desert Hills 35, Snow Canyon 33

The Thunder (6-1) led from beginning to end, but the game was always in doubt as Snow Canyon’s explosive offense kept finding ways to score.

“Give Snow Canyon credit, they never stopped, they never gave up and kept attacking,” Desert Hills coach Rick Berry told St. George News after his team remained unbeaten in region play. “We just gave up some things when we shouldn’t have.”

Snow Canyon football at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2021 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

Hunter Johnson connected with Will Warner for a 5-yard touchdown pass that brought Snow Canyon (4-3) within eight points at 6:25 of the fourth quarter. 

In what would be a turning point in the game, Steele Wyman blocked the ensuing extra point and the Thunder led 35-27.   

Desert Hills made some plays on its next drive, but an incomplete pass turned the ball back over to Snow Canyon with a first-and-10 on its own 39-yard line with 3:25 remaining.

Johnson connected on passes to Brooks Esplin and Jordan Wade, both of making terrific catches, that brought the ball to the Desert Hills 15-yard line.

Then under heavy pressure, Johnson scrambled left and heaved the ball to the far corner of the end zone, where Carson Nowatzke caught it falling down and staying in bounds for the score to cut the Thunder’s lead to 35-33.

Desert Hills called timeout before the 2-point attempt.

“I just told them this is it, how bad do you want it?” Berry said. “We had two different scenarios, and I asked the guys which one they felt most comfortable with, so we went with that one and it worked.”

Johnson, again under pressure, threw to Jake Hill in the back of the end zone. The pass was a little high, Hill leaped to pull it down, but he couldn’t hang on and Desert Hills prevailed.

“You never know what the score is going to be with us and Desert Hills, but you fix on it being down to the wire,” Snow Canyon head coach Mike Esplin said. “You want to win those. It’s hard to watch the kids when they’ve given a full effort and they come out on the losing end.”

Noah Fuialetolo tossed four touchdown passes in the Thunder win, connecting on three scores with Awsten Turnbow and one with Eric Olsen. Tyden Morris added a 4-yard rushing touchdown.

For Snow Canyon, Johnson finished with the two fourth quarter touchdown passes in addition to three others, to Esplin, Hill and Logan Mendenhall.

Crimson Cliffs 45, Hurricane 0

The last time Hurricane played Crimson Cliffs on their home field was two years ago, when Hurricane won 24-14 and ended a lengthy losing streak.

Crimson Cliffs football at Hurricane, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 24, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

This time around, it was all Crimson Cliffs, as the Mustangs ran away with a 45-0 victory.

“Our defense really stepped up tonight,” said Crimson Cliffs coach Jaron Tate. “They played hard and were rewarded with a shutout.”

Tate also credited the offense with being able to establish their running game and control the line of scrimmage.

“It really was a team effort all around,” he added. “I’m very proud of all of our players that got on the field and did their job.”

Both of Hurricane’s first two possessions ended with the Tigers punting, while the Mustangs ended up scoring on their first two. Both drives ended with short TD runs by Easton Droubay, giving Crimson a 14-0 lead after one quarter.

Then, with about three minutes left in the second quarter, Crimson’s Nicholas Baum made a scrambling run to the left side before getting knocked down at the 2-yard-line, after which quarterback Gunner Orr ran it in for a TD and a 21-0 lead.

Hurricane almost scored on its next possession, as quarterback Carter Ashby appeared to connect with receiver RJ Wright for a 26-yard touchdown with 1 minute left before halftime. However, a penalty was called against the Tigers, nullifying the play. Hurricane ended up turning the ball over on downs, giving Crimson just enough time to make a quick long pass, followed by a 35-yard field goal as time expired to give the Mustangs a 24-0 halftime lead.

In the second half, Crimson picked up where it left off, capping off its opening drive with a 2-yard TD run by Orr to make it 31-0.

Hurricane’s next possession stalled, with another big play called back due to a penalty. The Tigers were forced to punt from their own 5-yard-line. Crimson’s Naluwaia Loo rushed in and blocked the kick, sending it into the air. Teammate Jackson Griffiths then caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and Mustangs owned a 38-0 lead with just over 5 minutes left in the third.

There was only one more score the rest of the way, as Crimson’s Steele Barben broke loose for a 50-yard run with a 1:29 left in the game.

The Mustangs improve to 4-3 overall with the win, 2-1 in Region 10, while Hurricane drops to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in region play.

— written by Jeff Richards

Dixie 42, Cedar 0

Motivated by a capacity crowd for homecoming, the Flyers (3-3) started scoring early and never let up on the gas as they cruised to a victory over the Reds (2-5) in one of Utah’s oldest rivalry games.

Cedar football at Dixie, St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News / Cedar City News

Both offenses sputtered in the beginning. Dixie’s Bode Ray started the scoring with his interception and return for a touchdown.

After a three-and-out by Cedar, Dixie moved the ball down the field before Seth Takau hit Jakheo Mitchell on a 19-yard touchdown pass and the Flyers were ahead for good, 14-0.

The lone score in the second quarter was a 29-yard touchdown toss from Takau to Shea Anderson.

Koden Lunt connected with Karson Crandall on a big pass play to get the Reds inside the 10-yard line, but Treven Alldredge stopped Lunt on fourth down and Dixie went into halftime ahead 21-0. 

Crandall took over for an injured Lunt at quarterback for the Reds in the second half but Dixie’s defense stayed tough. Mitchell intercepted a pass and returned it to the 50-yard line midway through the third quarter.

The ensuing drive ended with Takau connecting with Jeffrey Christian on a 33-yard pass and the Flyers upped their lead to 28-0.

Late in the fourth the Flyers iced the win with Takau’s 10-yard touchdown run and a 3-yard TD burst from Richard Martinez.

Jonathan Bibiano Vargas was 6-for-6 on extra point kicks for Dixie in the win.

Region 10 football standings (region, overall) (as of Sept. 25)

  1. Desert Hills 3-0 (6-1)
  2. Pine View 2-1 (5-1)
  3. Crimson Cliffs 2-1 (4-3)
  4. Dixie 2-1 (3-3)
  5. Snow Canyon 2-2 (4-3)
  6. Cedar 1-3 (2-5)
  7. Hurricane 0-3 (2-5)

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