Leading 14-7 at halftime, Grantsville outscored Richfield 28-7 in the second half to cruise to a 42-14 victory Friday at home in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
With the victory, Grantsville (10-2) advances to the 3A semifinals against Juab Saturday at Mountain View High School in Orem.
Grantsville scored the first points of the game when quarterback Jackson Sandberg connected with Ammon Bartley over the middle about 20 yards downfield. Bartley then turned on the jets and sprinted to the end zone for a 92-yard touchdown.
Richfield tied the game late in the second quarter on a 26-yard pass play.
With the game deadlocked at 7-7, Grantsville drove 79 yards in 45 seconds to score a TD as time ran out in the first half on a 12-yard pass from Sandberg, who connected with Bartley in the back of the end zone to take a 14-7 lead at intermission.
The Cowboys sputtered slightly on offense to start the game, and then overwhelmed the Wildcats in the second half with their finely tuned passing attack and lockdown defense.
“It was a big-game situation and they (players) got a little nervous and we had to settle them down a bit,” said Grantsville coach Kody Byrd about any halftime adjustments. “For us, it was just an effort thing. They (Richfield) weren’t really doing much to take us away from what we wanted to do. We weren’t executing and playing with that fire and emotion that we needed. We just tried to give them a little wakeup call.”
The Cowboys scored five touchdowns in the game on pass plays and one more on a 1-yard plunge by Trent Brown.
Brown was the main weapon on the ground with 82 rushing yards, while Sandberg connected on 22 of 32 passes for 379 yards.The quarterback was able to spread the love around with completions to six receivers.
Grantsville’s first touchdown of the second was set up by an interception and return by Eathen Brinkerhoff to the Richfield 47-yard line.
Sandberg then connected with Bartley for 8 yards and scrambled on the next play to give him enough time to find Taylor Wood in the end zone for a touchdown.The play made it 20-7 GHS early in the third quarter. Grantsville’s PAT was blocked.
A few series later, a bad snap on a Grantsville punt gave the Wildcats the ball at the GHS 5-yard line. The Wildcats scored on a short pass to make it 20-14 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
The rest of the game belonged to the Cowboys with three consecutive touchdowns.
Sandberg connected with Wood on a pass that covered 40 yards to the Richfield 36. After a completion to Blake Thomas, Sandberg rolled left and connected with Bartley to make it 26-14. The Cowboys scored a 2-point conversion on a pass to Wood to make it 28-14.
With the Wildcats at their own 25-yard line, Grantsville defensive lineman Austin Gray intercepted a pass and returned it to the RHS 3-yard line. Brown ran it in two plays later to widen the lead to 35-14.
“It’s always fun for a lineman to get rewarded like that and be in the limelight a bit,” Byrd said. “Austin has been so solid for us both on offense and defense. He’s done a great job leading our group of linemen.”
Gray, center Chaz Shafer and Branson Yager have started all season on the line. The coach said Jonas Floyd and Thomas Yager played on Friday to fill in for injured starters.
Grantsville’s linemen have provided solid protection for Sandberg while wreaking havoc on defense.
The Cowboys’ linebackers and defensive backs have been solid. In addition to Brinkerhoff’s and Gray’s interceptions. Noah Mouritsen and Kaden Kelley also came away with picks in Friday’s contest.
Thomas tallied six solo tackles with one sack while Brinkerhoff had five solo tackles with one sack.
The Cowboys scored their final TD of the game on a 66-yard drive with strong running from Brown and a 25-yard TD pass to Mouritsen with 8:21 left in the game.
They dynamic pass-catching duo of seniors Bartley and Wood accounted for 16 receptions — eight each.
Bartley ended up with 187 yards receiving and Wood 122 yards. Also catching passes were Thomas, Garon Mower, Brown and Mouritsen. Nate Wright hit four of five PAT kicks.
Former Utah State University quarterback Craig Harrison calls the offensive plays for the Cowboys, while defensive coordinator Danny Warren coaches a stellar defense.
Coach Byrd said he relishes coaching great athletes.
“It’s fun to have all the weapons we have on this team. It makes you look like you’re a smart coach,” Byrd said.