ST GEORGE – Depending on a person’s preference, it was either a defensive masterpiece or a game only a mother could love Wednesday night as Desert Hills beat Snow Canyon 7-3 at Warriors Stadium.
Thunder linebacker Sil Bundy and defensive back Gabe Sewell made big plays to thwart Snow Canyon drives all night and the DH defense stopped the Warriors running attack cold and put continual pressure on quarterback Jake Frei all night.
With just under 10:00 in the first quarter, Frei hit wide receiver Chance Thorkelson in the flats at the Warriors 28-yard line. With Zach Kennedy as an escort Thorkelson ran the ball all the way to the Thunder 5-yard line, where he was tackled by Bundy. It would turn out to be a game-saving tackle as the Thunder kept Snow Canyon out of the end zone, forcing a 22-yard Parker Jensen field goal. SC would not score again.
“I was on the opposite side of the field,” said Bundy. “I am not the fastest guy, but I was able to get a good angle and run him down.”
On the ensuing possession, the Thunder offense drove the ball 60 yards, culminating with a 1-yard plunge by Bridger Cowdin at the 4:08 mark of the first quarter to take the lead, 7-3. Neither team would score again as the defenses took over.
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The teams would trade punts the rest of the first half. The field position continually favored Desert Hills as the Thunder stayed on the Warriors’ half of the field. With 4:05 to play in the half, the Warrior offense was finally able to move the ball. Frei completed three passes, the first two to Kennedy for 23 yards, the final pass to Nate Gottfredson for another 12 yards. On the pass to Gottfredson, Sewell was able to get his helmet on the ball to pop it loose and recover the fumble at the DH 28-yard line.
The teams again traded punts to begin the second half. With 3:39 left in the third quarter, Frei again drove the Warriors down the field, completing four of six passes for 54 yards down to the Thunder 21-yard line. On a second and 10, Frei was flushed from the pocket, rolled to his left and threw a bullet to his receiver Thorkelson at the 15-yard line. Sewell read the play, stepped in front and ran the interception back 70 yards to the Snow Canyon 14-yard line.
“Our defensive line was continually in their backfield,” said Sewell. “(Frei) rolled out of the pocket and I was able to pick up the read and intercept the pass.”
The Thunder had a chance to put some more points on the board, but on a fourth and 10, the field goal unit was unable to get a kick off as the holder mishandled the snap.
Snow Canyon would get the ball just one last time, beginning the drive at its own 25-yard line less than a minute into the fourth quarter. A defensive holding penalty, a defensive personal foul penalty and two completions got Snow Canyon to the Thunder 31-yard line. At that point, Warrior head coach Marcus Matua inserted Connor Parry for Frei at quarterback.
Parry directed the offense to the Thunder 19-yard line where they had a first and 10 with just under five minutes to play. On first down, a low snap resulted in a busted play and Parry was tackled for a 5-yard loss. Parry connected with Gottfredson on the next play for a 12-yard completion. On third and three, another low snap again caused Parry to improvise and once again the Thunder tackled him for a 4-yard loss. On fourth and seven, Parry faked a handoff, rolled to his left and threw a pass to Thorkelson in the flats. Bundy was able to deflect the pass out of bounds with a stretched-out dive. The 17-play, eight-minute drive resulted in no points.
Desert Hills took over at the 3:42 mark. Any chance for another Warrior possession was extinguished as Desert Hills was able to get two more first downs.
“We expected a defensive battle,” said Thunder head coach Carl Franke. “Coach Matua has his team playing very well. Our defense has also been playing well. Offensively we have young kids at key positions. They are still evolving into their roles, but our defense has more experienced players and I think that showed tonight.”
Cowdin finished the night with 98 yards on 20 carries. Thunder quarterback Nick Warmsley completed 10 of 15 passes for 70 yards. For Snow Canyon, Frei completed 13 of 26 passes for 225 yards. Kennedy caught six passes for 84 yards.
The victory snaps a two-game losing streak for the Thunder as they improve to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in region. They will finish out the season hosting Hurricane next week. The Warriors fall to 6-2 and 3-2 and will finish the regular season at Dixie next week.
- Related: STGNews Week 9 photo gallery
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