Injuries, penalties cost Thunder in road loss

STANSBURY — Short-handed and far from home, Desert Hills couldn’t score in the second half and dropped a 12-7 decision at the hands of undefeated Stansbury in non-region action Friday night.

“We were behind the chains all night,” coach Carl Franke said. “Penalties just killed us. Plus we lost four starters on defense. And Brad Wulfenstein was out the entire second half. But the bottom line is, for the second week in a row, we lost a game we could have and should have won.”

Stallions kicker Darius Johnson hit on field goals of 43 and 36 yards in the first half to put Stansbury ahead 6-0. Undaunted, the Thunder marched down the field and took the lead. Ty Rutledge found Keenan Wittwer from 36 yards out and Andrew Yergensen’s extra point gave Desert Hills a 7-6 lead going into the locker room.

The Stallions retook the advantage on a Chase Christiansen 10-yard run in the third quarter. His two-point try was unsuccessful as he got stuffed by the Thunder defense, leaving there at 12-7.

Desert Hills time and again found itself with third-and-long situations after a rash of penalties in the second half. In the fourth quarter, the Thunder moved into Stansbury territo, only to find themselves in fourth-and-long after a couple of holding penalties.

After a punt, the Thunder got the ball back with about a minute left. Again Desert Hills got the ball past midfield only to be nabbed for a penalty once again. The stallions then held and were able to run out the clock.

“Defensively, we played really well,” Franke said. “We really limited their Christiansen kid. Stansbury is a good team. The have athletes all over the field that fly to the ball. I think they are better than they were last year.”

DH beat Stansbury 26-7 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs last fall.

Christiansen and the Stallions were averaging better than 40 points a game going into the contest.

“It’s hard to compare them to Region 9 teams because we’ve only seen Canyon View, Pine View and Dixie,” Franke said. “They’re more like a Cedar or Hurricane, the way they run the ball. But I think they would compete well in our region.”

Stansbury passed a major test and improved to 7-0 on the year, also avenging that home loss in the playoffs last year. They return to Region 11 play next week.

The Thunder, 3-3 overall and 2-1 in Region 9, play at home vs. Snow Canyon next week, then close out the regular season with games against Hurricane and Cedar. They may have to do it without star Josh Anderson who injured his Achilles tendon. If it’s ruptured or torn, the defensive end/tight end would be out for the season.

Boxscore: DH Varsity @ Stansbury Box Score 28 Sept 2012

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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