ST. GEORGE — The Beaver Beavers are the 2A Utah State football champions, completing its second consecutive undefeated season.
The Beavers routed the Duchesne Eagles 42-0 at Greater Zion Stadium in St. George on Nov. 14 in the title match. It was the program’s 26th consecutive victory.
“It’s pretty awesome,” quarterback Treyson Hunter said of becoming back-to-back state champs. “It’s a cool experience, not a lot of people get to do it.”
They had to take down another undefeated team in Duchesne to seal the deal this season, and did so in emphatic fashion. Continuous pressure from the Beaver defensive line made the ground game impossible and the air game short and hurried for the Eagles. They sacked quarterback Cameron Brady, clogged up the running game and even batted down a pass or two.
The result was the first time Duchesne failed to a score a point since Sept. 9, 2016.
“We’ve been able to beat teams on the line of scrimmage all year long,” Beaver head coach Jon Marshall said. “For the last two years, our defense has been so tough. You just can’t run the football on us. So when teams can’t run so they have to pass, they become one-dimensional, it’s to our benefit. Our defense up front has been great all year and they were great today.”
After a funky start that saw Duchesne fumble the ball inside their own 20 twice — once on a strip-sack and another on a botched snap — and Beavers quarterback Treyson Hunter fumble in the end zone on a rushing attempt, the quirks settled and the Beavers takeover began. Hunter completed a 15-yard pass to EJ Allred over the middle to start the scoring.
It took more than 10 minutes for a snap to happen outside of the Eagles’ defensive 30 yard line after it was all said and done.
The score held at 7-0 until the second quarter, in which Hunter collected two more touchdown passes, one to Crayton Hollingshead from 10 yards out and one to Statler Wright from seven. The defensive presence up front forced a rushed throw by Brady that was deflected and intercepted by Ky Brown, who carried it to Beaver’s offensive 9-yard line to set up Wright’s score.
The Beavers didn’t score again until their first possession in the third quarter. From the 20-yard line, Hunter hit a wide open Hunter Carter around the 10-yard line, who carried it the rest of the way.
About seven minutes later, Hunter found Brown open in the end zone from the 3-yard line. It was Hunter’s fifth and final touchdown completion of the day, all to different receivers. It was a different approach from a team that normally relies on its ground game through Allred, Marshall said.
“Treyson was big time,” Marshall said. “Duchesne was ready for us up front… But Treyson made some great throws. For Beaver, how many times we throw the ball, that’s what makes this team good. We’re not one-dimensional. Teams like Duchesne come out and stop the run, and we can throw the ball.”
Running back Turner Williams got in on the scoring action with a 4-yard touchdown run through the right side with 4:05 left in the third quarter to round out the points sheet.
In the fourth quarter, with the second stringers in, all there was left to do was watch the clock wind down to zero.
For the Eagles, it was their first loss since dropping last season’s semifinals to the same Beaver team. They finish 12-1 after dropping the title match.
It completed Beaver’s 13th state championship, tying them with Millard for fourth-most in Utah history in any classification. The 26 straight wins ties with Bingham from 2009-2011 for the sixth-longest winning streak in state history.
For Beaver, it now has to replace more than 20 seniors to build into its dynasty status, including Allred and Hunter. But that might not be a problem, as its junior varsity pipeline is right in line with the program: it only lost one game this season.
But that’s an issue for later. For now, Beaver has triumphed over adversity in the age of COVID-19 to show that it is a dominant force in Utah football, no matter the circumstances.
“We went undefeated… but it’s been by far the most challenging, stressful year for us coaches and the athletes as well,” Marshall said, citing Gov. Gary Herbert’s Sunday address and the students having to test for COVID-19 as sources of anxiety. “I’m proud that our kids were able to put that behind them because I know it kept me up all night this week, as if I didn’t have enough to worry about [with] Duchesne. Just the COVID stuff, I hope this is the only year we have like this.”
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