PAYSON — For three quarters, it looked like the dominant Hurricane teams of the past five years was back. A near disastrous fourth quarter reminded all that Hurricane’s not quite there yet.
Hurricane dominated for 36 minutes, then survived a furious rally to hold off Payson 31-22 Friday night in Utah County.
“Our youth and inexperience showed,” coach Chris Homer said. “We were up 17-3 at the half and I think a lot of the guys thought we had the game in the bag, especially when we scored late in the third quarter.”
Three consecutive turnovers in the fourth quarter changed the game entirely. Up 24-3, the Tigers allowed an 80-yard drive and a Kyle Moffatt TD to make it 24-9 early in the fourth.
A Hurricane interception set up a 40-yard drive that ended with another Moffatt 1-yard run, making it 24-16 with still 7:51 left in the game.
The Tigers gave it back to Payson just 45 seconds later on a fumbled pitch, setting the Lions up at Hurricane’s 28-yard line. Five plays later, QB Easton Smith found WR Preston Little from 17 yards out to make it 24-22 with 6:08 left to play.
Payson lined up for a two-point conversion to try and tie the game, but Smith bobbled the snap and then tossed an errant pass incomplete into the end zone.
That’s when the old Tigers kicked in again. Hurricane started its offense at its own 33-yard line and chewed up 67 yards and four minutes of clock to ice the game on a JD Stanworth 6-yard TD run.
“I was very proud of that last drive,” Homer said. “The physicality was there. We tell our lineman to be sharp like a razor. They were more like that on that last drive. We have to do our thing and run people over.”
Stanworth, starting at fullback for the second time, carried on nine of the 10 plays on the final drive. He had 63 of the 67 yards, including the final six that notched the clinching points.
“He’s not exactly what we want at fullback because he’s a smaller back, but he sure is tough,” Homer said of Stanworth. “We love tough running backs and he really showed it on that last drive.”
Stanworth, a 170-pound junior, finished with 86 yards and a pair of scores. His last TD came with 1:29 on the clock and, paired with Ethan Stratton’s extra point, made it 31-22 and effectively clinched the game.
The Tigers had 329 yards of offense and held Payson to just 37 yards rushing. Hurricane, which improved to 1-3 overall and 1-0 in region play, converted half of its third down tries (7 of 14) and its only fourth down attempt. Adlai Elison passed for 108 yards.
“We feel like we played three really good teams on the road (before Friday),” Homer said. “But no matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t matter, you’re still 0-3. We won’t what to do with a home game next week.” The Tigers host Cedar next Friday.
Payson, 1-3 and 0-1, got 233 passing yards from Smith, but a dinged up (sprained ankle) Moffatt had just 33 yards on 17 carries. The Lions play at undefeated Desert Hills next week.
Stats: HHS 31, PHS 22
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.