Region 9 football: Red-zone woes doom Hurricane in loss to Moapa

HURRICANE – It was the tale of two halves for Hurricane football on Friday night. In the first half, the Tiger defense could not stop Moapa Valley. Conversely, in the second half the HHS offense moved the ball, but could not finish drives. Together, those added up to a 35-24 loss to the visiting Moapa Valley Pirates.

“Moapa Valley is a good football team,” Hurricane head coach Steve Pearson said. “They are expected to win state in their classification. But we got in the red zone five times in the second half and only scored once. We have to be able to finish drives.”

Coming out of the second half, the Tigers only trailed 21-16. For the first and only time of the night, the Tiger defense held Moapa to a three-and-out. After a good punt return, the Tigers had their best field position of the night at the Pirate 49-yard line.

Four plays later, Hurricane had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, with 42 of the yards coming on quarterback keepers by Adam Heyrend. But the next play, the Tigers fumbled the ball away.

Hurricane’s Tyler Moore (1), Hurricane vs. Moapa Valley, Football, St. George, Utah, Sep. 01, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

Once again, the Tiger D held, and Hurricane took the ball over on downs with a chance to take the lead again. After some punishing runs by fullback Jaron Cordova, the Tigers were back in the red zone. At the Pirate 10-yard line, facing a second-and-4, the Tigers took two consecutive losses as Heyrend was tackled in the backfield both times on broken plays.

“It was not the quarterback’s fault,” Pearson said. “We had running backs going in the wrong direction.”

On fourth-and-11, Heyrend could only get 4 yards and the ball went over on downs.

The Pirates immediately capitalized. On the next play from scrimmage, quarterback Daxton Longman found wide receiver Derek Reese for an 85-yard touchdown. With 11:22 left in the game it was 28-16.

On the ensuing kickoff return, Hurricane’s Jorge Sanchez dazzled the crowd with some great moves to get the ball to the Tiger 38-yard line. Tyler Moore and Cordova runs quickly got the Tigers to the Pirate 9-yard line. But on the next play, the pitch from the quarterback to Moore did not connect and a Pirates defender pounced on the loose ball.

Hurricane’s Jorge Sanchez (13), Hurricane vs. Moapa Valley, Football, St. George, Utah, Sep. 01, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

After a personal foul penalty negated yardage from an earlier short pass, Longman again found Reese on an identical route. This time the defender was there but the two players collided and the smaller Hurricane defender went to the ground as Reese regained himself and raced 86 yards for the backbreaker that put Moapa Valley up 35-16.

“Our defense stopped them the whole second half, except for those two plays.” Pearson said. “They got a big, fast receiver. And we had a not-so-big, fast defender. They took advantage of the mismatch.”

On the next possession, the Tiger offense, as it had all half, had no trouble driving the ball down the field. A big pass play and a subsequent facemask penalty got Hurricane to the Pirate 15-yard line. On the next play, however, backup quarterback Brock Starley’s pass was intercepted at the Pirate 4-yard line.

“We were trying to make something happen,” Pearson said. “Their defensive back made a good cut on the ball.”

The Tiger defense held again, but only after Moapa Valley took precious time off the clock. Moore returned the punt 40 yards to the Pirate 22-yard line. Two plays later, Moore caught an 18-yard pass from Starley with just over two minutes remaining.

Hurricane’s Jorge Sanchez (13), Hurricane vs. Moapa Valley, Football, St. George, Utah, Sep. 01, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

Hurricane attempted an onside kick, but the Pirates recovered. Hurricane used the remainder of its timeouts, then got a partial block on the Pirate punt and took over with just over one minute remaining. The Tigers eventually turned the ball over on downs and Pirate quarterback Longman took a knee to end the game.

In the first half, the Tigers scored twice on big runs by Moore. The first was a 30-yard run that capped Hurricane’s first possession. His next score came in the second quarter, this time from 44-yards out to give the Tigers a 16-14 lead with 2:33 left in the first half.

The Pirates did not score on any big plays before halftime, but with each possession Moapa Valley drove the ball on extended drives and scored each time. The first was another Longman-Reese connection, while the next two were on runs by Longman and Braeden St. John.

The Pirates outgained Hurricane 506-406 for the game. Individually for Hurricane, Moore gained 124 yards on 13 carries. Cordova had 101 yards on 17 carries. Treyson Abbott had 57 yards on 7 carries. Jason Gubler led the team with 49 yards receiving.

Defensively, linebacker Shane Farnsworth led the team with seven solo tackles. Lineman Steve Campbell had five solo tackles and one assisted tackle.

With the loss, Hurricane falls to 1-2. The Tigers will begin region play next week with a trip to Desert Hills. Moapa Valley improves to 2-0.

Stats: MVHS-HHS 9117

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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