ST. GEORGE — Pine View hosted Desert Hills in a battle of the running backs Friday night at Panther Stadium, and Desert Hills escaped with the 21-10 win.
Desert Hills took the lead for good after Pine View fumbled the ball on its own 1-yard line early in the third quarter. The Thunder would score on the ensuing play. DH’s Marco Jordan finished with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Pine View’s Kobe Topalian finished with 110 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“Both teams played hard tonight,” DH head coach Carl Franke said. “I don’t think either team was really happy about the execution tonight on both sides of the ball. We got an ugly win, and I’ll take it in this region. I knew we couldn’t go 1-2 in the region, so that was one thing we harped on. We had to get a win tonight somehow.”
Desert Hills started the scoring in the first quarter when Jordan found the end zone. Pine View would answer on the next drive with a touchdown from Topalian.
“We needed to establish the run game all night, because they knew we were going to pass a lot more because Nick (Warmsley) isn’t mobile right now,” Jordan said. “I took it to heart and we were in a situation where we needed to make plays, so I just gave it all my all and good things happened.”
Both teams played nearly identically the remainder of the half as both teams would see their drives stall. Both defenses also forced an interception.
The second half would start nearly as bad as possible for Pine View as QB Riley Livingston threw an interception off of a tipped ball. Thanks to the PV defensive efforts, DH turned it over on downs. But Livingston would then fumble the ball on the 1-yard line as he was injured, with Cody Ricketts recovering the loose ball. The two players collided helmet-to-helmet on the fumble recovery.
Livingston was carted off the field motionless in an ambulance after almost 20 minutes on the turf. The scary neck injury turned the celebratory atmosphere into a somber scene. The two teams knelt in prayer while Livingston was being attended to.
Pine View coaches reported later Friday evening that Livingston had been released from the hospital and was going to be OK. Most of the measures taken were precautionary as is customary with a neck injury. Desert Hills star Nephi Sewell was injured a month ago, suffering a broken neck in a game against Jordan High School.
When play resumed, Desert Hills capitalized on the great field position with Jordan’s second touchdown.
“I thought both teams showed great composure in the midst of everything that happened,” Franke said. “Both teams have great assistant coaches. Coach (Ray) Hosner is a great leader. You knew that both teams would be able to gather themselves and continue to play.”
Brooks Barney took over for Livingston and led the team well before the drive stalled. Pine View cut it to 14-10 on a field goal by freshman Connor Brooksby with just under six minutes left, but Jordan had his best series of the game on DH’s next possession. He rushed for 58 of the 69 yards on the drive, which ended in a Garrick Sharp 11-yard rushing touchdown.
Franke was also happy with the way his running back played especially on the last drive.
“(Jordan’s) been struggling running the ball and O-line play hasn’t been great over the last few weeks,” Franke said. “I felt like tonight, late when we needed it, I thought we ran the last four minutes to perfection.”
Desert Hills, 3-3 overall and 2-1 in region, plays next at Snow Canyon Thursday night. Pine View, which has lost two straight, falls to 4-2 and 1-2. The Panthers play at Cedar next Friday.
“They’re a good football team,” Hosner said. “You gotta come to play. They’ve got some good athletes. They’ve got a great football team. They’ve got a quarterback who can run and throw the ball. They’ve got a great running back and good receivers. We gotta be prepared to stop them.”
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