ST. GEORGE — The Zion Lions made no apologies and took no prisoners Saturday night in an 82-6 blasting of the Las Vegas Raiders at the soggy Dixie Sunbowl.
“It wasn’t a statement, we just needed to play to our level and not the other team’s level,” said Lions defensive back Dave Bishoff, who had a pick-six in the second quarter. “We’re trying to do that every week. If we can come out and play to our own level instead of the team we’re playing, we’ll be all right.”
Bishoff was part of a defense that gave up just three first downs and 80 yards — and 58 of those yards came with just seconds left in the game on a Hail Mary-type play by the Raiders that resulted in their only score.
“The defense has been great all year and tonight was no exception,” Zion coach Dale Stott said. “Having Misi Tupe on defense, it can’t be overstated what he does. Brandon Thompson played great. Our corners did a good job. It was all-around a great defensive team effort.”
Rarely did the Raiders have the ball for more than about a minute of possession time on offense, and ofttimes those possessions would end with something big happening for the Lions. Along with Bishoff’s interception return for a TD (35 yards), the Lions forced four more interceptions and three lost fumbles. Zion blocked two punts, an extra point and returned a punt 60 yards for a score (by Dudley Leaupepe). Late in the game, Matt Feula even one-upped Bishoff by taking an interception 39 yards to the house.
“If we play like this, nobody can beat us,” Lions running back Sione Tapuosi said. “Our goal was to come in, run the ball and then open things up just a little with our offense. And with our defense playing like they did tonight, well, everything was working.”
Tapuosi ended up as the leading rusher in the game, picking up 94 yards on just six carries. The Lions totaled 252 rushing yards on 24 attempts, averaging 10.5 yards per carry.
“We weren’t really trying to make a statement, we were just trying to have fun,” Stott said. “We wanted to work on certain aspects of our game and we accomplished that tonight.”
Josh Ford rushed for 53 yards from his quarterback spot and had a very efficient 8 for 13 for 157 yards and three TDs game. The Lions had 416 yards to the Raiders 80. Basically, it was never a contest.
Zion went up 14-0 in the first quarter on scores by Tapuosi and Matt Feula and then things got a little crazy in the second quarter. Ford hit James Thompson on a long TD pass to start a stretch in which the Lions scored every two minutes. The Ford to Thompson TD of 21 yards came at 11:09 to go in the half, then Ford hit Kaipo Hurtt from 18 out at the 9:15 mark to make it 28-0. Bishoff’s pick-six at the 6:45 mark made it 35-0 and Leaupepe’s punt return made it 42-0 with 5:15 left in the half.
The capper was a Matt Feula run from a yard out with 3:10 left in the half that came after Ford had juked his way for 39 yards to the one-yard line. That made it 49-0 at the half and even with the mercy-rule clock running in the second half, the Lions pushed the lead to 63-0 with Hurtt and Bailey Glass TDs in the third quarter.
It went to 82-0 midway through the fourth on a TD run by Nick Hafen, a TD run by Joe Feula and Matt Feula INT return.
DeMonte Haynesworth hit Rick Johnson for a 58-yard score with 2:02 left in the game to finally get the Raiders on the board.
“I’ve been playing with the Lions for quite awhile and defense has been our staple the whole time,” Bishoff said. “We’ve got a good offense, too, but defense wins championships. We come to play and we take a lot of pride in that.”
The Lions, 3-1, will host the Las Vegas Trojans next Saturday night. The Trojans are usually among the best teams in the country in semipro football, though they were upset by the Brigham Sting Saturday night, 13-9. The Trojans are 4-1.
The Raiders fall to 0-5 and have scored just 13 points in those five games. They host the Vegas Hawks next Saturday.
Final scores from around the RMFL from Saturday:
Zion Lions 82, Las Vegas Raiders 6
Brigham Sting 13, Las Vegas Trojans 9
Davis Vipers 34, Utah Wildcats 28
Wasatch Revolution 40, Utah Shock 7
RMFL Big 9 South Standings
Las Vegas Trojans 4-1
Wasatch Revolution 4-1
Brigham Sting 3-1
Zion Lions 3-1
Utah Shock 3-2
Davis Vipers 2-2
Utah Wildcats 1-3
Vegas Hawks 0-4
Las Vegas Raiders 0-5
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