SALT LAKE CITY — It didn’t take long for Desert Hills to spoil Stansbury’s special day.
The top-seeded Stallions were making their first-ever appearance in a 3AA semifinal football game. On the other side, it was Desert Hills’ fifth trip in six seasons and it showed as the Thunder put on a show en route to a 49-14 victory Thursday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“We’ve got off to some slow starts this year and we knew that we couldn’t do that against a good team like Stansbury,” said Desert Hills running back Nephi Sewell.
And what a start it was.
Desert Hills scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and punted only once – right before the half – to race out to a 35-14 halftime lead.
“We executed really well tonight,” said Desert Hills head coach Carl Franke. “I’m proud of the guys, but we still have one more game and some unfinished business to take care of.”
Stansbury scored the first touchdown of the game as Casey Roberts found Mitch McIntyre for a 60-yard screen pass for the touchdown.
But Desert Hills answered right back as Nephi Sewell scored on a 21-yard touchdown run after busting out a 39-yard run on the previous play.
For the game, Sewell had 11 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Thunder.
“He’s the leader of this team and we feed off of him,” said junior Penei Sewell, Nephi’s brother. “It means so much playing with him during his senior season after he went down with his injury last year. I’m just so happy for him and hopefully, coaches will start taking notice and he’ll get the recruiting attention that he deserves.”
Nephi wasn’t the only one who got into the end zone as Brock Parry – who had 41 yards on the night – scored on a 3-yard scamper on the right side. It was well-deserved as Parry made first down runs to keep the drive alive.
Marco Jordan, who is part of the three-headed monster running back group, finished the game with 63 yards rushing to go with 91 receiving yards and a touchdown. Jordan scored on a 72-yard pass from quarterback Quinn Kiser after he was left all alone in the middle of the field. The Stallions bit on the fake pitch to Nephi, before Kiser threw a bullet to Jordan for the score.
“The offensive line played incredible tonight and really made our jobs easy,” said Nephi Sewell.
After the Stallions scored two touchdowns on their first three possessions, the Thunder defense didn’t allow another point.
“We don’t’ see that speed very often, especially against that kind of offense,” Franke said of the Stallions’ triple offense attack. “It’s hard to prepare for, but as the game went on, we get used to their speed and guys just started making tackles.”
3AA Playoffs: Kiser with the TD. Thunder lead 49-14 with 4:48 left in game. pic.twitter.com/gNLv9ogCxx— Justin Giles (@JustinGiles_) November 11, 2016
Desert Hills also won the turnover battle as the Thunder forced three turnovers and didn’t commit any on offense.
“We challenged the guys before the game to get three turnovers and they did just that,” Franke added. “We had a short turnaround and I thought the guys did a great job at holding a team that talented to just 14 points tonight.”
Tyler Warner led the defense with two sacks and Cole Bailey added another. Carter Reynolds and Ryan Hoppie also had tackles for loss and Masan Tuileta added an interception for the “Dark Side Defense.”
Logan Hokanson led the Thunder with 94 yards receiving and just missed out on a touchdown after he was tripped from behind to fall just short of the goal line in the first half.
After the game when players were asked who they preferred to play next Friday between rivals Dixie and Pine View, they gave very diplomatic answers.
“It doesn’t matter who we play next week,” Nephi Sewell said smiling. “We’re all just excited and going to celebrate this win tonight. Both of those teams are really good so no matter what it’s going to be a battle.