On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, The Lehi Pioneers and The Stansbury Stallions met in the Semifinals of the playoffs. Both teams came into the game undefeated, but Stansbury ended up being the team to go home. This game had a lot of big plays, turnovers, and penalties on both sides.
The first quarter:
Lehi won the coin toss to start but chose to defer, so they kicked Stansbury. After the kick went out the back of the end zone, the Stallions got set on offense. This is when the beginning of the problems started for Stansbury. Ezra Harris threw an interception and ended up giving Lehi the ball at their own 48-yard line.
Lehi and Stansbury then exchanged three-and-outs before the Pioneers struck. They put together a swift two-minute, six-play, 52-yard drive, which was capped off with an 18-yard run for a touchdown from Carson Gonzalez. The extra point was made by Nate Shepherd with 8:02 left to make the game 7-0.
The Pioneers kicked to the Stallions and the kickoff went out of the back of the end zone again. Stansbury started putting together a nice-looking drive, but Harris threw another interception, putting Lehi on their own 14-yard line. The Pioneers then put together another quick two-minute, six-play, 86-yard scoring drive. The touchdown was ultimately scored by Kadiyon Sweat on a one-yard run. Shepherd kicked the extra point through the uprights with 3:05 to go making it 14-0 Lehi.
Lehi sent another kick Stansbury’s way, and again, the Stallions started looking good, but they fumbled the football. The Pioneers began another drive at the Stansbury 48-yard line. They had taken their drive 27 yards by the time the quarter ended.
The second quarter:
The Pioneers wasted no time this quarter and promptly scored a touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Jackson Brousseau to Makafefie Havea. Shepherd made the PAT with 11:52 to go, putting the score at 21-0.
To save the details, the Stallions had four drives. Three ended in punts and another was a fumble. The Pioneers also had four drives. Two ended in punts, and two ended in touchdowns. The former was after a drive ending in a three-yard pass from Brousseau to Gonzalez with 3:52 left. The latter was a nine-yard pass from Brousseau to Havea directly after the Stansbury fumble with 0:23 to go in the half. Shepherd kicked both extra points through the uprights and made it 35-0.
The third quarter:
The third quarter was full of back and forth, but no scoring.
The fourth quarter
The fourth quarter was the nail in the coffin for the Stallions. With 10:48 left in the game, Brousseau tossed a pass two yards to Mays Madsen for Lehi’s sixth and final touchdown of the game. Right on cue, Shepherd drilled the point after an attempt to make the game 42-0.
On the next drive, there was a lot of desperation for the Stallions. With a last-ditch attempt at scoring, Harris launched the ball downfield to his star receiver Dylan Hamilton. Hamilton got beat, and Harris picked up his third interception of the game.
The Pioneers chose to run the clock, were unable to pick up the first down, and punted the ball away with four minutes left to go. The Stallions could not get anything going and ended up turning the ball over on fourth down. Lehi then ran out the clock to end the game.
Keys to the Lehi win:
Stallion turnovers really killed any chance they had of winning. Lehi savored all five they caused.
Harris was under immense pressure. Not only was he under the pressure of the playoffs, but the Pioneer defensive line is powerful and was essentially manhandling Stansbury’s line.
Lehi is really, really good. It’s plain and simple: they earned their spot as the number one seed through their talent, coaching, and execution.
Lehi had great energy coming into the game. As soon as the students showed up, they threw a party. As soon as the band showed up, they were having the time of their lives. When the Pioneers took the field, they had a ton of swagger. They were the best and they knew it.
The Stallions have finished their undefeated run in less-than-stellar fashion. However, they won’t forget the memories they made this year. 12-1 is still extremely impressive. Lehi will now go on to play the Timpview Thunderbirds in the Finals of the UHSAA Class 5A State Championship playoffs on Friday, November 18th at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Quick author’s note: This is the end of my Region 7 football coverage until next season. I want to thank Daniel Olsen, the mastermind behind The Hive Sports, for the opportunity to write about them this season. Region 7 basketball begins on November 22nd, and I’ll be back again for that. I can’t wait to continue writing for you guys! -AJ Conlin, The Region 7 Insider
Featured image credit: AJ Conlin, The Hive Sports