It is exceedingly difficult for a team to win a football game when its opponent dominates the time-of-possession statistic.
The Grantsville football team found that out in a big way Friday night in Draper. Juan Diego ran 57 offensive plays in the first half to the Cowboys’ 18, including two clock-chewing touchdown drives, and built a 34-0 lead early in the fourth quarter before fending off a Grantsville comeback attempt for a 41-24 win in Region 13 play.
Grantsville (5-4, 1-2 Region 13) had the ball for just six and a half minutes over the first two quarters, and had 32 yards of total offense in the first half. Juan Diego (4-5, 2-2) used its running game to devastating effect, rushing for 386 yards on 78 carries — including 18 carries on its opening drive — while the Cowboys had just 2 yards on 17 carries.
The Soaring Eagle took possession of the ball on their own 23-yard line after the opening kickoff and took nearly six minutes off the clock with a barrage of running plays. Dominic Lewis kept the drive alive with a 9-yard gain on fourth-and-3 from the Juan Diego 40, and Dallas Larson’s 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 set the Soaring Eagle up in the red zone. On the 20th play of the drive, which included a pair of Grantsville penalties, Larson scored from 3 yards out to put Juan Diego up 7-0.
Grantsville went three-and-out on each of its first two possessions, sandwiched around a Juan Diego punt. The Soaring Eagle then put together another marathon drive at the start of the second quarter, moving the ball 82 yards in 18 plays over a span of 6:28. Much like their first scoring drive, the Soaring Eagle moved the ball down the field exclusively with their ground game, attempting only one pass. The drive was aided by a Grantsville encroachment penalty on fourth-and-4 at midfield, giving Juan Diego a fresh set of downs in Cowboy territory. Lewis finished the drive nine plays later with a 4-yard touchdown run, putting the Soaring Eagle up 14-0.
That’s where the score remained until Juan Diego’s first possession of the second half. The Eagle took over on their own 48-yard line after Grantsville turned the ball over on downs, giving JD excellent field position. Larson’s 4-yard run on third-and-3 helped Juan Diego keep its momentum, and after he ripped off a 13-yard run for another first down, Larson ran it in from 28 yards out for a 20-0 lead.
Lewis made it 27-0 on Juan Diego’s next possession, scoring on a 35-yard run with 3:49 left in the third quarter. It was 34-0 after Tyler Easter’s 1-yard touchdown run with 11:12 remaining in the contest.
Grantsville needed just 58 seconds to break through for a score after Easter’s TD, though their efforts were aided by Juan Diego’s lack of discipline. The Eagle had to kick off from their own 25-yard line after a personal foul, and a pass interference penalty gave the Cowboys 15 more free yards. GHS quarterback Caleb Sullivan hit Noah Mouritsen for 13 yards on second-and-14, and Juan Diego gave Grantsville another 15 yards with a face mask penalty to move the ball to the Eagle 20. Sullivan then found Dillen Richardson in the end zone, and connected with Kaden Kelley for a two-point conversion with 10:14 left.
A Juan Diego fumble gave Grantsville the ball on the Eagle 32, and Sullivan hit Ethan Rainer for a 25-yard gain to set up first-and-goal. A pass to Grant Rounds got the ball to the 2, but a pair of incompletions had the Cowboys facing fourth down. Blake Thomas ran the ball in for a touchdown, and Sullivan found Mouritsen for the conversion to cut the lead to 34-16 with 8:33 left.
However, Juan Diego put the game out of reach after recovering the ensuing onside kick. Another fourth-down conversion allowed the Soaring Eagle to run more time off the clock, and a face mask penalty against Grantsville moved the ball to the Cowboys’ 13-yard line. Four plays later, Larson scored his third TD of the evening to put the Eagle up 41-16.
Grantsville added another touchdown with 1:33 left on a 41-yard catch and run by Rounds, capping a drive that also saw Sullivan find Mouritsen for 36 yards and Payson Sorenson for another 17. Sullivan was 13-for-28 for 203 yards through the air, with Mouritsen catching three passes for 62 yards. Richardson had three catches for 38 yards and Rounds caught two passes for 46 yards.
Grantsville will travel to Morgan on Wednesday for its regular-season finale.