Stansbury took control early and rolled past rival Tooele 44-21 Friday night in the annual Battle of the Boot game at Tooele High School.
A 55-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kru Huxford, followed by a 31-yard interception return for a TD by Pae Tia 55 seconds later, gave the Stallions a 13-0 advantage midway through the first quarter.
The Stallions pushed the lead to 20-0 by the end of the first quarter and at halftime were up 27-7.
“We’ve been getting out to a slow start, so our emphasis was to get out to a fast start. Our goal is to run the offense at a fast pace,” said Stansbury coach Eric Alder.
It was Stansbury’s fifth win in a row over the Buffaloes and gave them a 9-3 overall record against their rivals.
Meanwhile, Tooele dropped to 1-4 on the season after picking up its first victory Sept. 4 over Ben Lomond.
“We had those quick touchdowns in the first quarter, then in the second half we didn’t play very well. I was disappointed. We never did get into a smooth rhythm on offense after that,” Alder said. “Tooele was the more physical team in the third quarter.”
The game was punctuated by penalties throughout and Alder was unhappy with the officiating.
“I watched the film and could not see why some of the penalties were even called,” he said.
After the opening 12 minutes, the Stallions outscored the Buffaloes 27-24 through the final three quarters.
“Tooele played well in the second half and gave us fits. They have some good athletes and took us out of our game,” Alder said.
Stansbury’s third touchdown came after Huxford completed passes to Brandon Funk and Koy McGee with runs from Huxford, Tia and Nate Bushnell. Bushell scored the TD on a 1-yard run to make it 20-0 Stallions after the first quarter.
The Buffaloes answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive which included ong runs by sophomore Mateaki Helu.
A 20-yard pass from quarterback Justic Tadifa to Helu took the Buffaloes inside Stansbury territory. Tadifa then zipped a pass to Dylan Makoni to push the ball to the Stallion 34. A roughing the passer call set up the Buffs at the Stallion 19. Tabor Shepard added some yardage, and then Tadifa fired a 14-yard TD pass to Helu to make it 20-7 with 8:29 until halftime.
Tooele appeared to slice its deficit to just one touchdown with a 27-yard TD pass to Makoni. But the touchdown was called back because of an ineligible receiver down field. The Stallions then came up with one of four interceptions for the game with a pick at their own 1-yard line.
Stansbury then drove 99 yards to go up 27-7 at intermission. Funk snagged a pass from Huxford and ran 46 yards for the final TD of the opening half.
The Stallions pushed the lead to 34-7 early in the third quarter when they blocked a Tooele punt — picked up by Dreyton Rowley, who ran the ball to the THS 22.
Bushnell ran to the 18 and Huxford to the 3 where Bushnell scored the TD.
Two minutes later after a fumble recovery, Kolton Loertscher connected on a field goal to push the lead to 37-7.
The Stallions were able to provide some backups game experience in the fourth quarter, according to the coach.
Tooele scored twice in the final quarter on a 10-yard pass to Makoni and a 62-yard run from Helu with 22 seconds left in the game. Stansbury also added a final TD on a 18-yard run from Bushnell.
“We had our shots but couldn’t jump on them,” Tooele coach Andru Jones said. “We had some mistakes that took some of the momentum from us. We are young and have to learn from those mistakes.”
Helu rushed 14 times for 122 yards and had seven receptions for 97 yards. Anthony Cole had 10 carries for 19 yards. Makoni had six receptions for 47 yards.
Leading the way defensively for Tooele were Drake Gritzmacher with seven tackles, Ty Sutherland with five tackles and a 10-yard sack, Devin Murphy with four tackles, Ernest Gurr with two sacks for 14 yards, Malakai Sedillo four tackles, Kameron Rolle with six tackes, Nisi Vaka with four tackles and Christian Gallego with three tackles.
Huxford hit 9-of-14 passes for 128 yards and ran 12 times for 153 yards. Bushnell ran 11 times for 95 yards.
Tia had seven tackles while Huxford and Bryce Gordon each recorded four tackles.
Tia, Funk, McGee and Tyson Tripp each picked off a pass. Gordon and Cayden Clark had blocked punts.
Stansbury hosts Park City on Friday while Tooele travels to Ogden.