For two quarters, the Tooele football team was neck-and-neck with the best team in Class 4A on Friday night.
In the end, however, the Dixie Flyers’ aerial attack was more than the Buffaloes could handle in a 69-35 loss.
“I think we came out to compete,” Tooele coach Jeff Lewis said. “That was our motto coming into this thing — we wanted to compete each position by position, and our kids were hanging with them man-for-man. They have a little more depth than us, they have a little more at the skill positions than us and it showed, but but we came out and competed man-for-man early.”
Dixie (3-0) racked up 810 yards of total offense, with 536 of those yards coming via the passing game. Senior quarterback Jacob Barben was 22-for-28 for 501 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Wide receiver Hobbs Nyberg caught 10 passes for 240 yards and five TDs in addition to his two carries for 60 yards and a score, and Payden Harrah had seven receptions for 175 yards and a TD.
“It became a track meet because we couldn’t get the stop,” Lewis said. “I think between No. 9 (Nyberg), No. 7 (Harrah) and No. 13 (Barben), there’s not many people who are going to beat those guys. They’re as good as you’re going to get at this level, and they proved that against Lone Peak last week.”
Early on, it looked like Tooele (1-2) might be able to match Dixie’s offensive output with its rushing attack. Buffs senior running back Jeno Bins had two TD runs in the first quarter, including a 58-yard romp, and Jordan Leakehe added another as the teams were tied 21-21.
Bins also scored Tooele’s fourth touchdown of the night on a 37-yard run with 2:28 to go in the first half to tie the game at 28-28, but Barben connected with Nyberg for a pair of touchdowns just 1:21 apart to give Dixie a 42-28 halftime advantage.
The Flyers let their running game do some damage in the second half, as Ammon Ah Quin carried the ball five times on their 73-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter. Ah Quin finished the drive with an 8-yard TD run. Dixie added to its lead shortly after that as Bins fumbled deep in Tooele territory, setting up a 19-yard TD pass from Barben to Harrah to put the Flyers up 55-28.
Tooele’s final points of the night came on a 9-yard scoring run by Ben Wasson to cap a 14-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:56 off the clock. However, Dixie wasted no time coming up with a response, as Nyberg scored on a 49-yard run 39 seconds later to stretch the Flyers’ lead to 62-35.
Ah Quin, who had 142 yards and three touchdowns on 16 rushing attempts, capped the scoring with a 1-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter before both teams turned to their backups to finish out the game.
“They’re No. 1, and it was more that than us running out of gas,” Lewis said. “They’re better. We’ve got a ways to go in our program. We’re getting better and we showed it tonight.”
Tooele finished with 402 yards of total offense, 334 of which came on the ground. Bins rushed for 177 yards on 22 carries and Wasson rushed for 76 yards on 12 carries. Austin Meono did a little bit of everything for the Buffs, throwing for 24 yards, rushing for 38 yards and catching a pass for 32 yards.
The Buffs will look to bounce back from a pair of difficult losses to Sky View and Dixie on Friday against county rival Grantsville.
“Every game’s important to us,” Lewis said. “We’re in a hole now. We’re 1-2, and we’ve got a ways to go. We need to heal up and find a way to play against Grantsville.”