by Matt Harris | It was enough to make a grown man cry. Several, actually. On the field.
As the second wound down on the clock, senior lineman Dominic Davidson wrapped Juab head coach Mike Bowring in his arms and with tears in his eyes, screamed, “We did it, coach!” into his ears.
The Juab Wasps are state champions for the first time in 65 years as they beat the Morgan Trojans, 17-14, in a rematch of the 2019 state title game. The win also broke through a ceiling of “almosts” for Bowring, who has coached the Juab program at powerhouse status for 17 years.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Bowring said. “I got the best community. I got the best kids. This is for the alumni. This is for the whole community at Juab. We’ve been knockin’ on the door a long, long time…They’ve supported me and hung in there with me. I’m just so proud of these kids. They were so resilient tonight.”
Juab netted 254 total rushing yards, much of it in the second half, to overcome the 204 total rushing yards by Morgan. Senior Trey Lund led the charge with 21 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Bodee Blackett had eight carries for 119 yards. Sophomore quarterback Alex Jackson completed 8 of 16 passes for 49 yards.
“After losing last year’s title game, 8-0, to the Trojans, it left a sour taste in our mouth,” Bowring said. “To lose, 8-0, in a defensive battle, just so close, and we’ve been that way for quite a few times…these kids had a lot to play for. They were highly motivated tonight.”
Juab was the first to make it on the scoreboard as they ran an 11-play, 70-yard drive on their first possession of the game. That was shortly capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Trey Lund.
In Morgan’s first two possessions, Juab’s defensive intensity was aflame, holding the Trojans to less than 10 total yards and no first downs.
Just before the end of the first quarter, the Wasps’ defense came up big again on Morgan’s third possession. Lush rolled out right and threw an overthrown ball that Juab intercepted in Morgan territory. Unable to get in the endzone, sophomore kicker Ryker Richards nailed a 37-yard field goal for a 10-0 Juab lead.
Morgan finally got going on offense early in the second quarter with a first down on a run by Lish. A few plays later, Lish’s pass for another first down was tipped up and intercepted again, giving the Wasps the ball right at midfield. Morgan’s got their quick revenger a few plays later. They a fumble and recovered at their own 30.
Morgan, with the help of a few extra penalties to get them inside the 20, capitalized on the turnover as Lish came out of the backfield for a 16-yard touchdown run to get Morgan their first points.
Only two plays into Juab’s ensuing drive, Morgan forced another fumble and took over on the Wasps’ 18-yard line. Morgan took advantage of the turnover to score on a 2-yard run by junior Willaim Lance to take a 14-10 lead in the final minute of the half.
Coming out of halftime, senior Bodee Blackett returned the kickoff all the way to the Morgan 40-yard line but to no avail as the Wasps went three-and-out on the drive. After holding on defense, the Wasps started at their own 8-yard line, and Lund made the play of the game, turning on the jets for an 83-yard touchdown run to put Juab back on top, 17-14.
“Oh, it was huge!” Bowring said about Lund’s touchdown. “We talked about it at halftime, we felt like, with some of the turnovers and penalties and things, we challenged the defense, ‘Hey, if you’ll hold them to 14, we’ll win this thing.”
And that is exactly what the defense did.
After forcing another punt from the Trojans, Juab got up to their own 48-yard line on fourth down and converted on a fullback run by senior Shan Jackson.
In the fourth quarter, Blackett ran on fourth down and converted after field measurement to make it 1st-and-10 at the mOrgan 27-yard line. Two plays later, a huge sack on sophomore quarterback Alex Jackson pinned Juab back to the 39-yard line. On the next play, a reverse play went wrong as the Wasps as the handoff was fumbled. It was recovered by Morgan at their own 43-yard line.
Morgan’s ensuing drive was met on fourth down with two yards to go by a monster tackle from Shan Jackson on defense. This gave Juab possession on downs at their own 48-yard line. Juab’s possession stalled at the Morgan 32-yard line, prompting a field goal attempt that Richards missed right, giving Morgan the ball with under four minutes to go.
With Morgan facing fourth down at their own 40-yard line, Juab came up big as they ever have on defense with a sack on Lish and took over on downs at the Trojans’ 37-yard line.
Juab’s offense executed just enough to keep possession of the ball, and Morgan committed a personal foul on defense to give the Wasps the first down they needed to salt away the clock and claim their first state title, and Bowring immediately broke into tears.
“This feels so good,” Bowring said. “Tonight, it kinda rolled our way. We’re just elated. This is fun.”