ST. GEORGE — It was supposed to be a nail-biter between two teams hoping to contend for a region title. It was supposed to be a close game with playoff ramifications. It was supposed to be a lot of things. What it was, was a statement game by a determined Desert Hills Thunder squad.
DH whipped Snow Canyon 42-0 Friday night in front of an appreciative Homecoming crowd and staked a claim as one of the best teams in the region and perhaps the state.
“We played Thunder football,” quarterback Ty Rutledge said. “We played hard, hit hard and and didn’t give up. And we finally put together four quarters.”
In all truthfulness, the Thunder only needed two quarters to turn this one into a rout. With Snow Canyon’s offense being dominated by the Thunder front, Rutledge and sophomore stud running back Bridger Cowdin had plenty of opportunities to make things happen.
The pair combined for a huge night behind a spirited Desert Hills offensive line. But even without their help, the DH defense was plenty good. In fact, the Thunder D scored two touchdowns of its own.
With the score 7-0 early in the second quarter, Sil Bundy and Gabe Sewell went hard after Snow Canyon quarterback Mason Smith. Smith launched a pass, but it was stuffed by Bundy at the line. Bundy tipped the airborne ball another time before it landed in Sewell’s hands. The big sophomore cradled it and danced untouched the 25 yards into the end zone with Bundy as his escort.
It’s certainly a good night when the head coach doesn’t know who to give the game ball to.
“The offensive line,” Carl Franke said. “But the defense got the shutout. And Ty made some great decisions tonight. Bridger ran hard. It was just a great team win.”
The defense set up another score just before halftime. On one of Snow Canyon’s deepest penetrations of the game, the Warriors got to the Thunder 38-yard line with 45 seconds left in the half. With Desert Hills already ahead 21-0, the Warriors were desperately trying to get on the board before halftime. But Smith pass sailed high and Rutledge, playing free safety, easily picked off the errant throw. The senior then criss-crossed the field in an exhilarating return that covered 72 yards and ended when he was forced out of bounds at the Snow Canyon 8-yard line. On the next play, Rutledge found Josh Anderson in the corner of the end zone for an easy six points. That made it 28-0 with just seconds left in the second quarter.
The Thunder defense added another touchdown late in the third quarter on a pick six by Jordan Hokanson.
Cowdin rushed for 140 yards and a TD and had a spectacular scoring run in the third quarter. He took an off-tackle play and burst into the secondary. A defender had a beat on him, but Cowdin ran through the tackle and high-stepped into the end zone.
“I was trying to read off of Josh Anderson’s block,” Cowdin said. “I cut in and so did the defender. I thought he had me. But I just kind of popped out of there and was free and saw the end zone.”
The Thunder, 4-3 overall and 3-1 in region play, are looking forward to a big game next week at Hurricane.
“We have got to keep Hurricane’s offense off the field next week,” Franke said. “We want some long, sustained drives and I thought we accomplished a lot that way this week.”
The Warriors, 5-3 and 2-2, could manage just 159 yards of offense and never did get in the Desert Hills red zone. The closest the Warriors came to a scoring threat was a 43-yard field goal attempt midway through the first quarter by Branson Stafford. But the kick was well short and SC would not threaten again.
Snow Canyon plays at home against 7-1 Dixie next Thursday night.
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