Stansbury escaped with a 21-13 victory over a determined Tooele football team Friday night at home to remain undefeated in region games.
Both teams pummeled away at each other with solid rushing attacks to keep this year’s game close as opposed to the last two contests between the rivals when the Stallions won by big margins.
The tight contest did not surprise Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen.
“I thought Tooele played a great game; you really have to hand it to their players and coaches. They were just outstanding against us,” Christiansen said. “Those last two games we played against them were flukes. Friday’s game was more of what you would expect for a rivalry game. You can throw the records out the window when rivals meet.”
As the two squads punched away at each other, Stansbury was able to hold a slight advantage in rushing yardage 242 to 198. Stansbury averaged 6 yards per carry while Tooele averaged 4 yards per running play.
Neither team was particularly sharp in the passing game with Tooele completing two-of-12 attempts for 17 yards with Stansbury a bit better connecting on four-of-11 attempts for 73 yards.
Both teams were similar in their offensive schemes with running quarterbacks and one featured running back. The featured back for Stansbury was Alex Mackay, who rushed 17 times for 141 yards. The top back for Tooele was Adam Pace, who rushed 19 times for 96 yards.
“We had a good week of practice and really emphasized the importance of this game to our players,” said Tooele coach Kyle Brady. “I’m really proud of the kids and the way they played tonight. We want to take the confidence we gained from this game and sustain it through our next two games and make the playoffs.”
Stansbury led 21-13 after three quarters and could not relax until Tooele fired an incomplete pass on fourth-and-eight at its own 42-yard line with 51 seconds left in the game.
Tooele stopped Stansbury on downs inside Tooele territory early in the first quarter, and then drove 60 yards for the first touchdown of the game. Pace broke off a long run, and quarterback Jake Brady capped the drive with a 4-yard TD run on a third down to put Tooele up 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Damon Fisk kicked the PAT.
Tooele’s offensive line of Tyler Daley, Daniel Aragon, Tony Leakehe, Ethan Reynolds and Zach Langi were strong at clearing paths for the runners most of the game.
Stansbury responded with a 77-yard, 3-minute drive to tie the game at 7-7. The final play of the drive covered 30 yards when quarterback Gage Manzione handed to Hudson Conrad on a counter play for the touchdown with 3:55 remaining in the first quarter.
Tooele’s first drive of the second quarter stalled at midfield when Stansbury’s Zayne Anderson intercepted a Buffalo pass at the 35 and returned it back to the 50 yard line. Two plays later, Alex Mackay took a pitch and raced 50 yards to put the Stallions up 14-7 early in the second quarter.
The Buffaloes were back in business when Nate Reynolds recovered a fumble at the Stansbury 6-yard line. But the Stallions were ferocious on defense with solid defensive plays by Austen Kincaid and Riley Deavila. Tooele running back Stratton Atherly was stopped at the one-half yard line on fourth down with 4:27 left in the second quarter.
Stansbury was able to push it out to the 24 before it was forced to punt. Tooele went for it on fourth down at its own 45-yard line, but Spencer Wihongi came up to tackle Tooele punter Austin Proctor.
With only 11 seconds to go until halftime, Manzione found Hudson in the seam for a pass completion to the Tooele 27 with 5 seconds left. A pass to the back of the end zone fell incomplete as time expired.
Tooele made a big defensive play to start the second half when it stopped Stansbury at its own 42. A pair of solid runs by Ryan Brady led to a 1-yard TD keeper by Jake Brady to cut the lead to 14-13 early in the third quarter. The PAT was unsuccessful.
Stansbury came back with an 80-yard drive to push its lead to 21-13 in the third quarter. Alex Mackay was the workhorse on the drive with several long carries. Conrad scored the TD on a 4-yard run. Jordan Shields added the PAT.
Neither team could reach the end zone in the fourth quarter as the two defenses held their ground.
Top tacklers for Stansbury were Wihongi 19, Landon Stice 10, Zane Anderson and Connor Littlefield nine each.
Top tacklers for Tooele were Maka Kioa 10, Nick Schwartzman eight, Atherley seven, Leakehe seven and Jonathan Ficken six.