Say a guy, looking suspiciously like a used car salesman, walks up to a stranger Friday afternoon and says, “Hey, Dixie is going to win at Desert Hills.” The stranger would eye the man with a doubtful look. “Oh, and Hurricane’s going to come back from last week’s four TD loss to win at Pine View.” Again, a very skeptical look, maybe an eye roll. “And one more thing, Cedar is going to blow out Snow Canyon.”
Most of us would have to check the man’s meds to see if he was off his rocker.
But that’s exactly what happened Friday night in the crazy 3AA South, with Dixie and Hurricane grabbing huge road wins and Cedar rebounding from a huge loss last week to win going away against the Warriors.
It’s as if everything we knew about the region went out the window in one crazy night in late September.
In our Saturday breakdown, we have highlights and photos from two of the games (courtesy of Dallas Griffin, CEC-TV, Robert Hoppie and Kevin Luthy) and quotes and insight from all three games (thanks to Darren Cole, Andy Griffin and Jordan Abel and all the coaches and players who talked to us).
Here’s our report:
Dixie 20, Desert Hills 3
Written by Darren Cole
ST. GEORGE – Many were expecting to see a high-scoring affair like the previous battles between Dixie and Desert Hills. Together the two teams average nearly 80 points per game and are the highest scoring offenses in the region. The first half was anything but.
“Our defense played extremely well,” said Dixie head coach Andy Stokes. “This is a team that can put big numbers on the board quickly.”
Dixie linebacker Malachi Fakahua said his team was ready for the intense battle.
“Desert Hills has some really talented players,” he said. “We were prepared well by the coaching staff. We took away some of the things they like to do.”
It was a 3-3 stalemate in the first half, but Dixie blew the game open after halftime, scoring on its first three possessions. The Flyers started their first possession on the Thunder 40-yard line after a bad punt. It took Dixie QB Zac Harrah nine plays to get the ball into the end zone, a 7-yard strike to wide receiver Bret Barben on the right side. Dixie led 10-3 at the 6:07 mark in the third.
“We made some blocking adjustments at halftime,” said wide receiver Hobbs Nyberg. “They were getting up field on the outside. We cracked inward on them to get more from our rushing game.”
Desert Hills suffered a setback on its next possession when Dixie defensive back Payton Wilgar intercepted the Thunder pass and raced 29 yards to the DHHS 6-yard line.
“Coach told me to jump the route on the next play,” said Wilgar. “I did and the ball came right to me.” However, the Flyers were denied the end zone and had to settle for Reid’s second field goal to go up 13-3 with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter.
The Flyers forced a Desert Hills punt to retake control of the ball. The punt pinned Dixie deep in their own territory at the 13-yard line. Four plays later, Harrah, who was flushed from the pocket, found Nyberg. The Dixie sophomore collected the pass, shed one tackler, then raced with a Dixie escort down the Flyer sideline to give Dixie a commanding 20-3 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“I saw that Zac (Harrah) was in trouble,” said Nyberg. “I cut short my route and came back to him. He found me and I was able to get away from my guy. It was nice to see my guys blocking for me downfield.”
Neither offense would seriously threaten after Dixie’s last touchdown as the Flyers walked away with the impressive road win.
To start the game, Dixie took the opening kickoff and marched down the field quickly in their designed hurry-up offense. Harrah drove the team 69 yards in nine plays before the drive stalled. Their next two plays netted negative-5 yards, forcing the Flyers to attempt a 36-yard field goal. Thayne Reid’s attempt was blocked by Thunder defensive tackle Justice Alo.
DH quarterback Nick Warmsley guided the Thunder 64 yards back the other direction, where their drive stalled. Christian Cottle’s 29-yard field goal was wide left. Both kickers were able to redeem themselves later in the half.
On Dixie’s next possession, Harrah was intercepted by defensive back Kobe Sattiewhite. That led to a successful 21-yard attempt from Cottle to put the Thunder up 3-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
On Dixie’s ensuing possession, the Flyers went 69 yards in nine plays. Reid’s 21-yard field goal tied the game with 6:21 showing on the clock. Neither team would threaten for the remainder of the half.
For the game Dixie gained a total of 294 yards with 233 of those coming through the air. They held Desert Hills to 180 total yards. The Thunder could only muster 53 yards in the second half.
Individually, Nyberg led Dixie with 29 yards rushing. Harrah completed 11 of 19 passes for 233 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Nyberg also led in reception yardage gaining 129 yards on four catches. Barben and Jaden Harrison had three catches apiece for 55 and 48 yards, respectively.
Warmsley led all players rushing for 63 yards on 13 carries. He also completed 7 of 17 passes for 86 yards. Logan Hokanson led the Thunder in receiving yardage, gaining 45 yards on two catches.
With the win, Dixie improves to 5-1 over all and 2-0 in region and takes sole possession of first place in Region 9 with Pine View’s loss to Hurricane. The Flyers travel to Snow Canyon this Thursday to take on the Warriors. The Thunder fall to 2-3 and 1-1. They will travel to Pine View next Friday.
Stats: Dixie 20, Desert Hills 3
Hurricane 42, Pine View 35
Written by Andy Griffin
Any tennis fans out there? Hurricane’s win over Pine View Friday night resembled a tennis match, with back and forth play and a crucial service break by the Tigers making all the difference.
It seemed as if neither defense was going to get a stop in the second half. Hurricane, which trailed 14-13 at intermission, opened with a TD drive and a two-point conversion to take a 21-14 lead. Jake Carr, who had 175 rushing yards on the night, did the honors on the TD with a 41-yard gallop to paydirt. He also ran in the two-pointer.
“There is nobody anywhere I’d rather have to run a four-minute (time-killing) offense than Jake Carr,” Hurricane head coach Steve Pearson said. “He carries tacklers and runs through arm-tackles and gets first downs.”
Pine View answered with a 14-yard TD pass to Steve Bangerter on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 21-21 and we were just getting warmed up.
The Tigers stayed on serve with a 31-yard TD pass from Josh Parker to Kirt McDaniel, a spectacular catch by the diminutive receiver in heavy traffic.
Pine View answered with a 38-yard run from scatback Kobe Topalian, making it 28-28 with 7:57 left in the game.
And we were still on serve in the match.
Hurricane turned it back around with a 77-yard catch-and-run from Parker to Kyle Williams. The senior receiver caught the ball, broke one tackle and then out-maneuvered the final defender to sprint for the score.
“Kyle made an incredible play on that one,” said Parker, who was celebrating his 17th birthday in style in the win. “We just kind of improvised on that one and he made some great moves after he caught it.”
The Tigers TD kept them on serve and ahead at 35-28 with 7:05 left in the game.
Then came the service break.
Pine View had excellent field position after a short kickoff by Hurricane, but managed just 3 yards in three plays and decided to punt it back to the Tigers and hope for a defensive stand.
That stand never came as Hurricane got a big run (27 yards) from Nick McDaniel, plus a 15-yard penalty on the Panthers for a horse-collar tackle. A couple of plays later, Nick McDaniel took it in on an end around to make it 42-28 with just 3:27 left in the game.
“Nick and Jake are both banged up a little,” Pearson said. “I didn’t know how much we’d get out of them, especially Jake. But they’re tough and they came out and played hard.”
To Pine View’s credit, the Panthers did not quit. In fact, PV scored quickly, with Livingston finding Bangerter from 41-yards out to make it 42-35 with 2:34 left. The 53-second drive gave the PV Homecoming crowd some hope.
But an onside kick was touched too early by the Panthers, giving Hurricane the ball. The Tigers then did what they do best, reeling off a couple of first downs to drain the clock down to 27 seconds.
Pine View took over at its own 26-yard line and moved the ball forward about 20 yards, but a Hail Mary as time expired was incomplete and 20 yards short, ending the game.
Game. Set. Match, Tigers.
“It feels so good right now,” Kirt McDaniel said. “Catching passes is so much more fun than downfield blocking. A lot of it was street ball, just making it up as you go on some of those passes. On the (31-yard TD catch), I had actually fallen down. I just jumped back up and headed for an open space and Josh got me the ball.”
It was a startling turnaround for a Tigers team that lost by four touchdowns and only scored 10 points a week ago.
“We were in essentially the same situation we were in last week at Desert Hills and we came out in the second half against Desert Hills and basically got run over,” Pearson said. “I told the team that we hadn’t played a full four quarters of good, hard football and, regardless of what the score turned out to be, we wanted to improve on that and have a good second half. ”
Just as startling was the 42 points and nearly 500 yards given up by a Pine View defense that allowed 200 yards and six points a week ago to Snow Canyon.
“My receivers were amazing tonight,” Parker said. “Those guys don’t drop balls. They just go out and get it. Jake Carr just carries defensive players. And our offensive line was incredible.”
Parker passed for 217 yards on 11 of 17 passes and had four TDs with no interceptions. Kirt McDaniel had 104 yards and three TDs and Williams had 114 yards and a TD, while Carr rushed for 175 yards and Nick McDaniel rushed for 87 more. All-totaled, the Tigers had 499 yards on 59 plays. an average of 8.5 yards per play.
Pine View was pretty good offensively as well, gaining 360 yards, including 230 passing and 130 rushing. Bangerter looked a lot like older brother (and Pine View record-holder) Jack by making 10 catches for 186 yards and three TDs.
Four of the six teams in the 3AA South now have 1-1 region records, including both of these teams. Hurricane, 3-2 overall, has its own Homecoming next Friday as Cedar visits the Hurricane Valley. Pine View, 4-1 overall, also has a home game, with Desert Hills invading Panther Stadium.
Cedar 41, Snow Canyon 13
Written by Jordan Abel
CEDAR CITY – With both teams coming off region-opening losses, it was valuable to get a win Friday night. Cedar’s defense was just too much for Snow Canyon as the Redmen came away with the 41-13 victory in their Homecoming game.
Cedar jumped out to an early 27-point lead before the Warriors found the end zone with just under three minutes left in the first half. Cedar’s defensive unit was the star of the game in the beginning as it held the Warriors to 11 yards and no first downs in the first quarter. The Redmen defense also forced five turnovers in the game.
“I was proud of our team in how we came back and responded to how we played last week,” Cedar head coach Josh Bennett said. “Our challenge on Monday to the kids was to play all four quarters and they did tonight. Hopefully it showed (the team) what they’re capable of if we can play four quarters.”
Down 14-0, SC looked like it might start a comeback early in the second quarter as a Cedar trick play resulted in a interception. But two plays later, Drake Lewis, who threw the interception, picked off a Snow Canyon pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. That made it 21-0, Redmen.
“I knew I needed to make up for it,” Lewis said. “I made a mistake and I wanted to get it back, so I went hard, and I did everything I could. I just got the ball in the end zone.”
After a Mason Fakahua TD run, Snow Canyon’s Jackson Nowatzke finally scored the Warrior’s first touchdown (cutting it to 27-6). SC got the ball back on Cedar’s 30-yard line. But Cedar’s defense was too tough. The Warriors would turn the ball over on downs to end the first half.
“It was a lack of execution on our part,” SC head coach Marcus Matua said. “A lot of that has to do with Cedar. They came out with a better plan than we did and they executed better than we did. It came down to who wanted it more and who wanted to play harder and Cedar came forward. They did what they wanted to do and we were just on our heels the whole night.”
Even though the defense stole the show, Cedar’s offense made some noise of its own. The Redmen O scored on its first two drives of the game, going 123 yards in those two drives alone.
Explosive plays were helpful for Cedar’s offense as Mason Fakahua hit Bracken Yardley for a 51-yard touchdown. Later in the first half, Fakahua found an opening and ran for 62 yards and a score. Lewis also got Cedar to the 1-yard line after a 65-yard run.
“I thought our line played great,” Fakahua said. “All of our starters (on the offensive line) got their blocks and got the job done. We played great. Half of that (touchdown run) was the line. I love my line.”
To start the second half, Snow Canyon looked strong as Josh Barnes rattled off a 52-yard run to set the Warriors up at the Cedar 22. But an interception by Jaden Tullis stopped the drive in the end zone and preserved CHS’s 27-6 lead.
Snow Canyon would score again, cutting it to 27-13, but Fakahua rushed on in to make it 34-13 and Snow Canyon’s next three offensive possessions would end in turnovers. The first one, a fumble forced and recovered by Berick Englestead, went for 33 yards and a touchdown, giving CHS its final score of the night. The next two drives were stopped by an interception by Trevor Obering and another fumble.
“I just saw him kind of holding the ball (out),” Englestead said. “So I just grabbed the ball and ran. I was super excited.”
Fakahua finished with 236 total yards and three touchdowns. Lewis ended with 117 rushing yards with a touchdown and the interception return touchdown.
For SC, Barnes finished with 131 rushing yards. Nowatzke had 80 total yards and a touchdown.
Cedar jumps back in the 3AA South race with the win, going to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in region. The Redmen play at Hurricane next Friday night. Snow Canyon, now 3-3 overall and 0-2 in region, plays at Dixie Thursday.
Stats: Cedar 41, Snow Canyon 13
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