It was closer than last year’s loss to Desert Hills, but a defeat nonetheless for Stansbury once again in the 3A state quarterfinals at home.
With Dixie leading 20-13 with the ball inside Stansbury territory at the 15-yard line and only 1:33 left on the clock, quarterback Blake Barney ran 14 yards on a fourth-down play to the 1-yard line to sew up the victory for the Flyers. The Stallions were out of timeouts and Barney took a knee twice to run out the clock.
“Those were two good teams going at it out there tonight, and you have to hand it to their quarterback. He’s an amazing player,” said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen.
Barney accounted for more than 200 yards in total offense with 107 yards rushing on 21 carries and 115 yards passing, completing 12-of-25 attempts.
Leading 14-13, the Flyers scored a touchdown but missed the extra point to give them a 20-13 lead with 10:25 left in the game. Stansbury, however, ended up getting only one more possession on offense.
After a good return by Dakota Case to the 30, Stansbury was able to drive inside Dixie territory down to the 42. But an incomplete pass and a screen pass for negative yardage forced Stansbury to punt the ball back with 7:09 left in the game. It was the last time Stansbury had the ball.
Dixie started at its own 21-yard line and ate up the clock with an 18-play drive down to the Stansbury 1-yard line as time ran out.
It is little consolation to the Stallions, but Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres had plenty of praise for Stansbury.
“[Stansbury is] as tough as any team in our region,” Monkres said. “They are as well coached as any team we’ve faced this season.”
If the Stallions could have sustained a drive in the in final quarter for a touchdown to trim the lead to 20-19, they may have opted for a two-point conversion in attempt to take their first lead in the game.
“We were thinking about it,” Christiansen said.
The start of the game was not good for the Stallions. Dixie kickoff return man Chris Whetten took the ball at the 9-yard line and raced up the left side of the field for a 91-yard kickoff return to give Dixie a 7-0 lead.
“He’s (Whetten) the fastest guy on the team,” Monkres said. “He had a couple of good kickoffs earlier in the year, but then teams quit kicking it to him.”
Stansbury was unable work out of poor field position on its first two drives, but the defense was able to keep Dixie out of the end zone in the early going.
Dixie drove down to the Stansbury 15, but gave up the ball on downs when Stanbury’s Zayne Anderson tackled a Dixie receiver 1 yard short of a first down on a fourth-down pass.
The Stallions finally got the offense churning late in the first quarter and into the second quarter by going to the air. Christiansen fired a 14-yard pass to Chandler Staley as the first quarter ended to move the ball from the SHS 26 out to the SHS 40.
With the ball at the SHS 43, Christiansen connected on a 42-yard pass to Austen Kincaid down to the 15.
Runs by Jackson Clausing, Staley and Christiansen gave the Stallions a first down at the 1-yard line where Christiansen scored on a sneak. With the PAT by Darius Johnson, the Stallions tied the game at 7-7 with 8:21 until halftime.
The Stallions’ defense bent, but did not break on the next offensive drive by the Flyers. Dixie drove from its own 35 down to the Stansbury 1-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 1 yard line, Colton May came up with a great tackle behind the line of scrimmage to thwart the Dixie drive. May was superb on defense in the quarterfinal game and led the team with 11 tackles.
Getting the ball back with good field position finally paid off for the Flyers. Their first touchdown drive of the game came late in the second quarter that started inside Stansbury territory at the 47.
Dixie got a big chunk of yardage on a 19 yard pass from Barney to Kyle Hansen down to the 20 yard line. Barney then hooked up with Andy Appel to the Stansbury 5-yard line with 31 seconds left in the first half. Barney scored on a 5-yard keeper with 14 seconds left in the half. With the PAT, Dixie led 14-7 at intermission.
The Stallions cranked up the offense again to start the second half with a 38-yard pass to Kincaid on the first play to put the ball inside Dixie territory. Stansbury was able to drive to the 28, but stalled out there and missed a 45-yard field goal attempt.
Stansbury’s second second-half drive was a winner. The Stallions drove 78 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown to make it 14-13 with a missed PAT. Three long runs by Christiansen pushed the ball to the Dixie 38 and a face-mask penalty added five more yards. The quarterback connected with Jaron Moon on a 10-yard pass to the 19. Stansbury capped off the drive with runs by Clausing and Anderson, and a keeper by Christiansen for the TD to make it 14-13 with 2:14 left in the third quarter.
Dixie followed up with a drive of its own which started late in the third quarter and ended with a touchdown with 10:25 left in the game. Barney’s scrambling and running ability helped out big-time on the drive. A helmet-to-helmet penalty on the Stallions helped to get the drive going for Dixie. Then on third-down-and-six at the Stansbury 41, Barney ran to the 27 on a keeper. Then on fourth-and-two at the 19, Barney kept the ball down to the Stallions’ 3-yard line. He then scored on the next play to make it 20-13 for the Flyers. Dixie missed the PAT wide left.
Christiansen led the Stansbury rushing attack with 99 yards on 17 carries. Clausing rushed for 22 yards and Jesse Horowitz had 15 yards. Christiansen connected on 4-of-10 passes for 92 yards.
Anderson had eight tackles, Christiansen seven, Allan Havili six, Case five, Iosua Opeta five, Moon five, Staley four, Clausing four, Spencer Wihongi three. Cole Merseth, Riley Deavila and Tyler Jensen each recorded two tackles.