The Stansbury Stallions went on the road to Vernal and defeated the Uintah Utes to start the region season at 1-0, but they suffered a loss in the process.
Senior quarterback Chase Christiansen, who was originally going to sit the game against Uintah with an injured ankle, played in the first half and re-injured the ankle. He is out indefinitely with the injury, and junior Gage Manzione came into the game in the second half as the new signal-caller.
“I wish we would’ve started Gage and went with him,” SHS head coach Clint Christiansen said. “Gage is a player. He’s a gamer. He’s going to come in no matter what. You can always count on him. If he makes a mistake, he’s going to make something big happen. He just doesn’t let things bother him. He’s got a lot of poise. He’s our guy. He’s the guy we’re going to run with for a while. We’ve got all the faith in the world in him.”
Manzione led the Stallions on two touchdown drives in the second half en route to a 35-14 win over Uintah. With the Stallions leading 21-7 with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Manzione connected with junior Hudson Conrad on a 24-yard touchdown pass to put the Stallions ahead 28-7 at the 2:31 mark.
Uintah lined up to punt on the ensuing possession, and the snap went high. The punter snagged it, but he was brought down by Spencer Wihongi and Manzione at the 18-yard line, putting the Stallions in immediate scoring position. Two plays later, Manzione handed the ball off to Conrad, who scampered to the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown run, putting the Stallions ahead 35-7 just before the end of the third quarter.
The Stallions had five turnovers in the game — all fumbles — but only one of those turnovers led to points for the Utes. That came at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Uintah punted, and the ball bounced short of the return man and hit off a Stansbury player’s leg. The Utes recovered the ball, and then their quarterback, Braxton Coonis, connected with wide receiver Haden Bunderson on a 29-yard touchdown pass that made the score 35-14, where it remained for the rest of the game.
“It’s unbelievable right now,” Clint Christiansen said of the team’s turnovers. “We’re trying to find an answer for it. It’s something we’ve got to get fixed. It’s going to end up killing us if we don’t. We have a chance to put teams away, and we’re just not doing it right now.”
The Stallions’ first score came in the first quarter after the Utes fumbled the opening kickoff. Tyler Jensen recovered the fumble at Uintah’s 24-yard line. It took the Stallions just five plays to score, capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run from Conrad with 8:51 left in the first quarter.
The senior running back redeemed himself after an earlier fumble when he scampered to the end zone for a touchdown on Stansbury’s third possession. The 22-yard touchdown run put the Stallions ahead 14-0 with 3:23 remaining in the opening quarter.
Uintah responded quickly with a touchdown of its own — a 65-yard touchdown pass by Coonis to make the score 14-7.
Manzione said although the defense gave up a couple of plays that led to points, he felt like he and his teammates played well on the defensive side. He knows they need to correct things to prevent big plays from happening, but he likes where things are heading.
Alex Mackay got into the action in the second quarter with a 22-yard run that ended with a face mask penalty on Uintah. Mackay punched it into the end zone later in the drive with a 4-yard TD run, giving the Stallions a 21-7 lead.
Manzione said the team should be fine going forward, especially because of the leadership of Stansbury’s offensive linemen. He said the team will come together, fix its mistakes and move forward.
Stansbury continues 3AA North play Friday when it hosts Ben Lomond. The Scots have not yet won a game this year.