Grantsville football fans were treated to Homecoming fireworks Friday — literally and figuratively.
The Grantsville Cowboys dominated the Emery Spartans 38-0 as part of the offensive and defensive fireworks from the players, and then actual fireworks were launched into the sky when the Cowboys took the field at the start of the game and after halftime.
The win moved Grantsville into sole possession of third place in 3A North with a showdown Thursday against Morgan, which is currently tied with Judge Memorial for first place. With just three games remaining, and only two region games, the Cowboys’ fourth shutout of the season came at just the right time to help them possibly earn a home playoff game in the first round.
The Grantsville defense faced the No. 1 rushing attack in 3A Friday, but the Spartans couldn’t get going against the Cowboys’ aggressive approach.
“That’s a great defense,” said GHS head coach Tony Cloward. “That’s their fourth shutout this year. That ties a Grantsville record for the most shutouts in a given season. We’re going to break that record this year. This defense is legit. I’m very happy with our defense. They’re well coached; they’re well prepared. I was very happy with them.”
The offense did its part to assist in the shutout by scoring early and often against the Spartans. Only 1:09 had gone off the clock in the first quarter when the Cowboys put up their first score. It was set up when Nephi Meono rolled out and found a wide-open Jacob Riding for a 45-yard pass that put the Cowboys inside the 10-yard line. On the third play of the drive, Wyatt Smith carried the ball in for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive, highlighted by a sack from Devin Adams on third down. The offense took over, and Ky Fisher opened the drive with a 14-yard gain. Meono hit Dallin Williams on a screen pass for 15 yards, and then Fisher capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.
The Cowboys’ next touchdown came when they were willing to settle for a field goal. The snap on the field goal attempt was bobbled, so Dillon Hutchins picked it up and scrambled. Just before he could be brought down by the Emery field goal block team, he heaved the ball into the air, and it landed into the arms of Adams, who was brought down at the 1-yard line for a first down. Fisher pounded the ball into the end zone for the touchdown and a 21-0 lead. The Cowboys had built a three touchdown lead, and it was still the first quarter.
That forced Emery to open the offense a little bit and try to throw the ball. The Spartans went with screen plays to take advantage of the Cowboys being aggressive, but the plan failed.
“We are so well prepared,” Cloward said. “Coach Ware and his defensive staff have these kids so prepared for what they’re going to see, and we have a guy stay home (on screen plays). Even though we blitz very aggressively, we always have a guy stay home and watches for counters and screens.”
The highlight of Grantsville’s preparation against the screen came at the 5:52 mark of the second quarter when Riding tipped a screen pass into the air. Fisher spotted the tipped ball and snared it for the interception.
Following a 13-yard gain by Fisher on offense and a face mask penalty called on Emery, Meono found Riding for a 27-yard touchdown pass that put the Cowboys ahead 28-0.
Ethan Steinfeldt nailed a field goal in the third quarter for a 31-0 lead, and then Alec Anderson wrapped up the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 25-yard touchdown run at the 5:29 mark of the fourth quarter.
Grantsville next hosts Morgan Thursday for a chance to get into position for a home playoff game. That game will be senior night for the Cowboys, and it starts at 7 p.m.