The Boot is staying in Stansbury Park for another year, thanks to a dominant defensive performance by the Stansbury football team in Friday night’s 38-0 win over county rival Tooele at Stallion Stadium.
The Stallions (3-2, 2-0 Region 10) limited the visiting Buffaloes (2-3, 1-1) to just 223 yards of total offense and forced six turnovers, including five interceptions. Those turnovers led directly to 17 Stansbury points — 14 of which came in the second half.
“Those don’t come very often, so we’re enjoying the shutout,” Stansbury coach Eric Alder said. “They were challenged. That was a confident bunch in Tooele, and they should have been. They’ve got good players, but I haven’t been prouder of a bunch of guys in my coaching career.”
While the Stansbury defense made life difficult for Tooele’s offense, the Stallions’ run game gashed the Buffaloes for 372 yards. Senior Tommy Christopherson ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries, and quarterback Kru Huxford ran for 109 yards and threw for 160 more.
“Our line — they were making big holes you could drive a truck through,” Christopherson said. “They’re so undersized, but they go out and play their heart out every game. They really impress me.”
The Stallions got started by forcing a Tooele fumble on the third play of the game, with defensive lineman Andrew Hanson coming up with the recovery on the Buffs’ 43-yard line. Stansbury chipped away with eight straight run plays, though the drive stalled on third-and-goal when a busted play resulted in a 7-yard loss. The Stallions settled for a 27-yard field goal by Kolton Loertscher and a 3-0 lead with 7:29 left in the first half.
Tooele had a strong drive going on its next possession, moving the ball from its own 10-yard line to near midfield on the running of senior Nukuluve Helu and a timely 7-yard pass from Kulani Iongi to Dylan Makoni. However, Helu was stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Buffs’ 49-yard line, giving possession back to the Stallions.
“I think we kind of got spooked a little bit,” Tooele coach Andru Jones said. “We didn’t have a great game plan, I didn’t think, and that’s my fault as a coach. I’ll take it and we’ll get better. I love my kids to death, and I feel like they competed as hard as they could.”
Stansbury committed three false start penalties on the ensuing drive, as well as another penalty for an illegal formation. Those flags derailed an otherwise-promising possession that included an 18-yard pass from Huxford to Gabe Harris and a 15-yard run by Huxford on third-and-13, and the Stallions came away scoreless when Loertscher’s 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
However, the Stallions’ defense forced Tooele to go three-and-out, setting Stansbury up with the ball at its own 42-yard line. Six plays later, on third-and-4 for from the Tooele 31, Christopherson found a hole and sprinted to the end zone to give the Stallions a 10-0 lead.
After a holding penalty spoiled the Buffaloes’ next possession, the Stallions struck again with another strong drive — this one covering 99 yards in 10 plays. Christopherson opened the drive with a 15-yard run from his own 1-yard line, and Huxford hit Harris with a 47-yard pass. Christopherson had runs of 22 and 14 yards, and Huxford ripped off a 19-yard run of his own. Finally, on third-and-goal from the 1, Huxford ran the ball in for a TD and a 17-0 lead with 2:32 left in the first half.
“We’ve all been excited for this game since March,” Christopherson said. “This is a big rivalry and it means a lot to us, especially to us seniors. We feel like we’ve always been doubted and looked down upon.”
Tooele nearly broke through for a touchdown before the half expired, driving 53 yards in nine plays to reach the Stansbury 20-yard line. On the final play of the half, Iongi found Joseph Douglas in the back of the end zone, but Douglas came down out of bounds, rendering the pass incomplete.
Both teams struggled with mistakes to start the second half. The Stallions had a punt blocked to end their first possession of the third quarter, only to have Cayden Clark intercept a pass from Iongi on the very next play. Stansbury drove down to the Tooele 19-yard line, but Huxford’s pass on second-and-12 was intercepted by Kayden Goins.
After Tooele was forced to punt, the Stallions needed just three plays to get back on the scoreboard. Huxford found Harris open in the middle of the field, and Harris sprinted 76 yards for a touchdown to put Stansbury up 24-0.
Then, the mistakes began again. Tooele gave Stansbury the ball on its own 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter after a botched snap on a punt, but the Stallions gave the Buffs the ball back on the next play when a pass from Clark was picked off by Kameron Rolle. Three plays later, Harris intercepted Iongi and gave the Stallions the ball at the Buffs’ 22, but Huxford was intercepted by Josh Prescott on third-and-5.
Tooele drove down the field on the ensuing possession, aided by a 15-yard penalty on Stansbury and a 35-yard pass from Iongi to Makoni. However, the drive ended abruptly when Jake Nunley intercepted an Iongi pass in the end zone, and Christopherson ran for an 80-yard touchdown on the next play from scrimmage to put the Stallions up 31-0.
“We came up big when things didn’t go our way,” Alder said. “We did some dumb things and had a lot of penalties, but every time our offense let us down, our defense came right back and got the ball back. It’s a tremendous, tremendous performance all around.”
Things again looked promising for the Buffs on their next drive, as they got down to the Stallions’ 28-yard line after the kickoff went out of bounds and Iongi hit Makoni for 18 yards. This time, Stansbury’s Pae Tia picked off a pass from Iongi and returned it 50 yards to the Buffaloes’ 30-yard line, setting up Christopherson’s 7-yard TD run five plays later.
The game ended with Payton Didericksen intercepting a pass from Iongi on the final play.
Helu carried the ball 21 times for 82 yards and had one reception for 17 yards for Tooele. Iongi was 10-for-26 for 130 yards, with Makoni making five catches for 80 yards. Ty Sutherland had 12 tackles, including two tackles-for-loss, and Gavin Ware had 10 tackles and one tackle-for-loss. Sutherland, Bridger Chaplin and Christian Gallegos each had a sack.
The Buffaloes, ranked No. 9 in the Class 4A Ratings Percentage Index, will look to bounce back Friday at home against Ogden, having played three consecutive games on the road.
“It’ll be nice to get back at home and have more fans,” Jones said. “I love our community and the school and the school pride, so it will be fun to be back at home and have some people around us.”
Harris had three receptions for 141 yards for Stansbury. Hanson had 11 tackles and one tackle-for-loss and Tia had nine tackles with two tackles-for-loss and a sack.
The No. 6-ranked Stallions will travel to No. 1 Park City on Friday for a crucial matchup that could help determine the Region 10 champion.
Grantsville 52, San Juan 32
The Grantsville football team overcame a 20-7 first-quarter deficit, outscoring San Juan 38-6 in the second half en route to a non-region victory Friday night in Blanding.
Senior quarterback Jackson Sandberg was 15-for-18 for 221 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the victory for the Cowboys (3-2). Trent Brown carried the ball 15 times for 83 yards and two touchdowns, and James Fuluvaka gained 98 yards on 17 carries with one TD.
San Juan (3-2) pulled ahead 7-0 less than a minute into the game on a 55-yard pass from Shaw Nielson to Randall Flavel, but the Cowboys answered with a 7-yard TD run by Fuluvaka with 4:25 left to tie the game. Kian Conway’s 50-yard TD run and a 1-yard scoring run by Nielson put the Broncos up 20-7, with Grantsville cutting the lead to 20-14 early in the second quarter on a 10-yard TD pass from Sandberg to Ammon Bartley. Conway caught a 10-yard pass from Nielson with 2:58 left in the half to give San Juan a 26-14 halftime advantage.
It was all Grantsville from there. Bartley caught a 20-yard TD pass from Sandberg with 9:13 left in the third quarter, and 26 seconds later, Kayden Bohman recovered a fumble and returned it 45 yards for a score to give the Cowboys a 28-26 lead. Chace Gipson caught a 35-yard TD pass from Sandberg with 6:20 left to extend the lead to 35-26.
After a 5-yard TD run by Nielson pulled the Broncos within three points, the Cowboys pulled away. Brown scored on a 10-yard run with 1:37 left in the third quarter, and added an 8-yard TD run with 10:54 left in the fourth. Nate Wright booted an 18-yard field goal with 3:03 left to cap the scoring.
Bartley had eight receptions for 132 yards for the Cowboys, while Taylor Wood caught four passes for 47 yards, Gipson caught two passes for 33 yards and Daltyn Peasnall had one catch for 14 yards. Bartley and Blake Thomas each had 10 tackles on defense, and Bartley, Logan White and Noah Mouritsen each had an interception.
Grantsville will open Region 13 play Friday night at home against Judge Memorial. The Cowboys will enter the game ranked third in the Class 3A Ratings Percentage Index, with Judge Memorial ranked 17th.