STANSBURY PARK – Four interceptions and two fumbles proved to be the Achilles’ heel for the Cedar Redmen Friday night as they fell to Stansbury, 28-20, in the opening round of the 4A playoffs.
It was a cool and damp night in northwest Utah – A night that proved to have an interesting matchup from two teams on opposite sides of the state. Stansbury, the No. 1-seeded team from Region 11, came into the game riding a five-game winning streak. Cedar, the No. 4 team from Region 9, looked to get yet another victory on the road – a plan that had produced every Redmen victory this season.
The game, with turnovers aplenty, came down to a last-second Stallion interception in the end zone – that stopped the final Cedar surge.
Momentum was a hard thing to come by for the Redmen. Each time the offense looked like it was about to strike, fate had other plans. Cedar found itself giving the ball back to the Stallions, multiple times, deep in Stansbury territory.
Each team managed to get on the scoreboard early as the two offenses worked their way down the field to score on their opening possessions.
Following the quick 7-7 start, both teams hit a lull as some kind of spark was fought for. Though Cedar recovered a fumble on the opening play of the second quarter, Stansbury managed to stop the Redmen offense for a second time on fourth-and-short.
Following the defensive stop, the Stallion offense – led by quarterback Mitch Lindsay – marched down the field with hopes of scoring. After converting a crucial fourth-and-3 play, Stansbury running back Tavita Gagnier made a difficult catch for a 16-yard TD grab – his second of the night – with five minutes to go in the half.
Cedar’s quarterback, Jaxon Garrett, had two possessions to score in the remaining minutes, but threw two interceptions – one for a touchback – dashing the Redmen’s chances of tying the ball game at half. Instead, they trailed 14-7.
After a quick three-and-out by the Cedar offense to start the second half, the defense came up big as defensive tackle Kobe Lata got his hands on the ball and returned it for a pick-six, tying the game at 14 apiece. It was the big guy’s second interception of the year.
The Cedar defense came up big again as it forced Stansbury to punt the ball quickly, following the interception. As the offense trotted onto the field, running back Drake Fakahua broke loose on what was close to a 60-yard run. The Redmen then advanced the ball to the Stallion 4-yard line, only to find themselves stopped by the Stansbury D-line: a play that would later come back and haunt the Redmen at the end of the game.
As the third quarter reached its final few ticks, Lindsay connected on a 90-yard deep ball with Stallion wide receiver Conner Mckay, giving Stansbury the seven-point lead heading into the fourth (21-14).
It wasn’t until halfway through the final quarter that Cedar decided it wanted to make this game real interesting. A Stansbury fumble, deep in Stallion territory, gave Garrett and the Redmen offense a chance to tie the game up and possibly force the game to go into overtime.
Garrett, facing a fourth-and-1 on the 3-yard line, punched it in through three tackles. But Cedar kicker Adam Rogers had his extra-point kick blocked, leaving the Redmen still down a point, 21-20, with 6:00 to go.
Stansbury, eating much of the clock, paraded down the field to score on a Gagnier 4-yard run. Following the made extra-point, the Stallions held on to an eight-point lead and left their home turf as the victors, 28-20.
As Stansbury looks to host Ridgeline High School in the second round of the 4A playoffs, the Cedar Redmen were sent home with a 4-6 record for the season.
4A State Playoffs First Round Results
Mountain Crest 44, Salem Hills 31
Dixie 30, Park City 6
Stansbury 28, Cedar 20
Ridgeline 25, Spanish Fork 22
Pine View 63, Tooele 14
Sky View 50, Mountain View 14
Orem 36, Bear River 7
Desert Hills 45, Bonneville 13
4A State Playoffs quarterfinal games (Nov. 3, times tbd)
Mountain Crest (10-1) at Dixie (10-1)
Ridgeline (7-4) at Stansbury (7-3)
Pine View (8-3) at Sky View (10-0)
Desert Hills (6-4) at Orem (9-2)
State 4A semifinals are Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. at U of U
4A Championship game is Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at U of U
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