Region 10 football: Desert Hills, Snow Canyon win nailbiters; Dixie outlasts Crimson Cliffs

ST. GEORGE — All three Region 10 football matchups Friday night were close contests, as Desert Hills came from behind to win at Cedar while Snow Canyon outlasted Pine View in overtime. Both of those games were decided by a single point.

Meanwhile, in a low-scoring game at Crimson Cliffs, Dixie outlasted the Mustangs. Another Region 10 team, Hurricane, lost a non-region game on the road to Cottonwood by three touchdowns.

Following are recaps of Friday night’s games. The regular season wraps up next Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Desert Hills 34, Cedar 33

At Cedar High, the Desert Hills Thunder clinched at least a share of the Region 10 title with a wild come-from-behind victory over the Reds.

The Thunder struck first, taking over after Cedar’s first punt and capping off a scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run by Jordan Nunley. Shayden Scott’s PAT kick made it 7-0 for Desert Hills with 7:57 left in the first quarter.

Demario Warren of Cedar makes an 86-yard TD reception vs. Desert Hills, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 8, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Later in the first, Cedar quarterback Koden Lunt connected with Demario Warren for an 86-yard touchdown pass, tying the score 7-7.

Desert Hills fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, after which Cedar marched deep into Thunder territory. But just as the Reds seemed poised to score again, Cy Nunley intercepted a pass near the goal line, giving the ball back to the Thunder.

However, Desert Hills couldn’t move the ball on its next possession, and its punt was at least partially blocked, giving the Reds prime field position once again.

This time, Cedar was able to capitalize as Ben Ellis made a 17-yard rushing touchdown to put the Reds ahead 14-7 with just over seven minutes left before halftime. But the Thunder were able to answer by scoring on their next drive, as Awsten Turnbow made his way into the end zone for a 16-yard scoring run, tying the game 14-14 with 1:28 left in the first half.

Cedar appeared to be running out the clock just before halftime, but snapped the ball for one last play as time expired. Lunt found Conner Hardman on the left sideline, who exploded across the field and past three defenders for a 67-yard TD reception. The ensuing extra-point kick attempt by Edgar Hernandez-Hinojosa didn’t make it off the ground, so the Reds went into the halftime break leading by six points, 20-14.

Late in the third quarter, Cedar struck again, taking a 27-14 lead on a 25-yard scoring pass from Lunt to Ellis. Desert Hills answered almost immediately, as quarterback Noah Fuailetolo connected with receiver Eric Olsen for a 68-yard score to close the Thunder’s deficit to 27-21.

Then, at the midway point of the fourth, Cedar’s Lunt and Ellis teamed up again, this time for an 11-yard scoring pass that put the Reds ahead, 33-21. Cedar went for the two-point conversion, but the pass fell incomplete.

Down by 12 at that point, Desert Hills wasted no time getting another score, as Fuailetolo made a touchdown pass to Turnbow from 27 yards out, and the Thunder were within five points with just over five minutes left.

Awsten Turnbow of Desert Hills intercepts a pass in the end zone vs. Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 8, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar then ran as much time off the clock as it could but ended up having to punt the ball away with a couple minutes remaining.

That was just enough time for Desert Hills to make one last scoring drive. With 1:22 left, Fuailetolo completed a clutch sideline pass to Lincoln Holmes, who advanced the ball to the 15-yard line. 

The Thunder’s next play was a pass to the opposite sideline that took them down to the 1-yard line. Then, one play later, Tyden Morris ran the ball into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 1:08 remaining. The ensuing two-point conversion try failed, but Desert Hills led 34-33, and that one-point lead was all they needed.

Cedar’s very next play from scrimmage proved to be its last, as Desert Hills intercepted the ball and ran it back to about the 3-yard line. The Thunder then ran out the clock and celebrated their fifth region victory, spoiling Cedar’s homecoming in the process. 

“We said it all week. I don’t care what the records are. I don’t care what it is, you come to Cedar, you better be ready to play,” Desert Hills coach Rick Berry told St. George News afterward. “Coach Bennett and his staff always do a great job. It’s a tough place to play. It’s a dogfight every time. They came prepared, they were very well-coached and gave it an effort. Hats off to them. I mean, they made us go down to the wire.”

Berry said that being down by 12 with just over five minutes remaining meant the Thunder had “no room for error at that point.”

“We had to get a three-and-out. And we had to make our plays on offense,” he said.

“Sometimes you come in maybe a little overconfident,” Berry added. “You hope not, but you prepare and it’s a learning lesson for us too. I’m not going to take anything away from Cedar. They played a heck of a game.”

Desert Hills improved to 5-0 in region play with the win, 8-1 overall. The Thunder next play at Pine View (2-3, 5-3) in the regular season finale next Wednesday.

— written by Jeff Richards

Dixie 16, Crimson Cliffs 10

Dixie snared three second-half interceptions, and forced five overall turnovers, to win a defensive battle at Crimson Cliffs.

Dixie’s defense makes a stop against Crimson Cliffs, Washington, Utah, Oct. 8, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

“We had some kids step up and make plays,” Dixie coach Blaine Monkres said. “Defense just stepped it up. Offense was sputtering, we didn’t play that well on that side of the ball, but defense picked us up tonight.”

The Mustangs offense held the football for almost the entire first quarter as Dixie threw an interception in its only possession of the frame.

Crimson Cliffs capped the ensuing drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Gunner Orr to Kona Crowell, and Ryan Wooley’s extra point put the home team ahead 7-0.

Dixie was able to put some plays together and Jonathan Bibiano Vargas kicked a 31-yard field goal that put the visitors on the board at 7-3 midway through the second quarter.

Both teams turned up the defensive pressure until Dixie quarterback Bronson Barben, in his second game back from an injury, connected with Jakheo Mitchell for a 17-yard touchdown toss that gave the Flyers a 10-7 lead at halftime.

“Jakheo had another great night tonight, did a great job on defense and on offense,” Monkres said.

Dixie got the ball first in the third quarter and promptly threw another interception. But then Crimson Cliffs came right back and threw an interception.

Flyers cornerback Mamao Tofi broke on the ball along the sideline, juggled it, and held on for the pick.

“We put a lot of work in this week, and we really showed it,” Tofi said. “It was a hard fought win, Crimson always gives us all we want.”

The Mustangs brought in sophomore quarterback Steele Barben for the rest of the second half, but the Flyers defense pressured him relentlessly and forced two interceptions to secure the win.

Bronson Barben throws a pass for Dixie against Crimson Cliffs, Washington, Utah, Oct. 8, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Bronson Barben’s 50-yard touchdown throw to Mitchell provided Dixie’s final margin of victory with 8:38 left in the game.

Derek Kesterson attempted to run in the 2-point conversion but the referees ruled he didn’t break the plane of the goal line, leaving the score 16-10.

Crimson Cliffs had two more chances to win the game, but the drives ended when Dixie’s Kael Martinez made an interception and Mitchell got a pick in the end zone on the Mustangs last gasp.

Dixie moved to 4-1 in region play and is alone in second place.

“I knew it was going to be a tough, defensive battle,” Monkres said. “Tonight we just happened to come out on top. They did a great job and played hard, both teams did, it was just a low scoring, defensive battle.”

Dixie’s Region 10 finale is Wednesday at home against Hurricane, while Crimson Cliffs plays at Cedar.

Snow Canyon 44, Pine View 43 (OT)

In what many are calling the Region 10 game of the year, Snow Canyon rallied for a gritty comeback and overtime win at home against Pine View.

Pine View football at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

Hunter Johnson threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brooks Esplin as time expired in regulation, then found Esplin again on the 2-point conversion to force overtime.

Pine View got the ball first in overtime and Keith Adams immediately ripped off a 16-yard rushing touchdown, his fourth in the game. Austin Kogan booted the extra point and the Panthers led 43-36.

But Johnson would not be denied, connecting with Jake Hill in stride for a touchdown. The Warriors decided to go for the win, and they got it when Johnson threw the 2-point conversion pass to Bo Hickman.

Johnson finished with 335 passing yards and three touchdowns in the win. Johnson, Esplin and Drake Kelly each had a running touchdown in the Warriors win.

Sawyer Woods ran for a Pine View score and Turner Williams collected a touchdown pass for the Panthers in defeat. 

Snow Canyon’s regular season is complete, with the Warriors finishing 3-3 in Region 10 play and 5-4 overall.

Cottonwood 49, Hurricane 28

In a non-region game at Cottonwood High in Murray, Hurricane led 13-7 after the first quarter but the Colts took over after that, outscoring the Tigers 42-15 in the rest of the contest.

Hurricane scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, a 4-yard run from Alex Stubbs and a 32-yard pass from Jace Meacham to RJ Wright.

Meacham would throw two more touchdowns in the third quarter: a 6-yard connection to Wright and a 27-yard toss to Ashton Williams. 

Hurricane’s final region game is next Wednesday at Dixie.

Region 10 football standings (region, overall) (as of Oct. 9)

  1. Desert Hills 5-0 (8-1) RPI ranking: 1st
  2. Dixie 4-1 (5-3) RPI: 4th
  3. Crimson Cliffs 3-2 (5-4) RPI: 6th
  4. Snow Canyon 3-3 (5-4) RPI: 8th
  5. Pine View 2-3 (5-3) RPI: 9th
  6. Cedar 1-4 (2-6) RPI: 10th
  7. Hurricane 0-5 (2-7) RPI:12th

Photo Gallery

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

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!