Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 11, 2022
Stansbury football eliminated from state tournament following 42-0 loss to Lehi

Looking ahead to Friday afternoon’s semifinal game in the high school football state championships, the statline favored the Lehi Pioneers ahead of its game against the Stansbury Stallions.

As the No.1-ranked team in the 5A class, Lehi possessed a higher receiving rating over the season, with 256 receptions to Stansbury’s 150 and 251 receiving yards per game to the Stallions’ 220.

However, the Stallions had the upper-hand where the stats ultimately count the most. Thanks largely to strong showings by Dylan Hamilton, running back Mateaki Helu and quarterback Ezra Harris, the team posted a staggering 84 touchdowns, three times the amount of the national average and 12 touchdowns higher than the Pioneers.

On top of that, Stansbury’s 264 rushing yards per game overshadowed the Pioneers’ nearly 143 yards over the team’s 12 games.

In the quarterfinals, Lehi underperformed in its game against Box Elder, a game in which took two late touchdowns to help the Pioneers squeak by with a 28-14 win. Conversely, Stansbury came close to matching its 51 points per game average during a 42-7 victory over Olympus.

With each team’s undefeated 12-0 records on the line, the only stats to settle were the ones to be recorded during the semifinal game.

In a TV interview ahead of the game, Stansbury head coach Eric Alder played down any fixation the Stallions may have over the importance of the 12-0 record and any added stress as a result.

“We’re at the top of the mountain, but not at the peak yet,” Alder said. “There’s pressure, but there’s pressure regardless of our record.”

As the first quarter got underway at the University of Utah’s Rice Eccles Stadium, Stansbury came out of the gate on the wrong foot when Harris threw an interception on the first play of the team’s opening drive. Though they were spared by Lehi three-and-out, the Stallions continued to struggle over the next several possessions.

Following a failed drive their second time around, Stansbury punted the ball to Lehi and gave them another opportunity to break the scoreless tie. An 18-yard run by Lehi running back Carson Gonzalez put the Pioneers on the scoresheet first to give the team a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing drive, Harris turned the ball over again and threw his second interception and once again the Pioneers made the Stallions pay with a rushing touchdown on the resulting possession to go ahead 14-0 early.

The unforced errors did not stop there, as Stansbury fumbled the ball on third down which led to yet another Lehi scoring opportunity as the first quarter drew to a close.

During the first play of the second, Pioneers quarterback Jackson Brousseau sailed a 25-yard touchdown pass to extend Lehi’s lead to 21-0 in the early moments of the quarter.

Both teams traded three-and-outs, which proved to be a break from turnovers by Stansbury. Up to this point, the Stallions were unable to respond to Lehi’s dominating ground game and prolific passing game.

Things started to unravel for Stansbury, as Lehi tacked on another seven points to go up 28-0. After a couple failed drives, the Stallions turned the ball over for a fourth time as the Pioneers recovered a Harris fumble deep in Stansbury’s end of the field.

With the short field position, Brousseau racked up another touchdown for Lehi with a passing touchdown to turn the game into a 35-0 runaway as the clock on the second half wound down.

In the second half, Stansbury came out playing aggressively and managed to keep Lehi off the board for the entirety of the third quarter. Unfortunately, they were unable to score any points of their own and the Pioneers kept up the pressure both offensively and defensively.

Facing a running clock and dwindling chances to put up points, the Stallions saw their season — and perfect record — come to an end as Lehi won the game 42-0.

Stansbury’s undoing ultimately hinged upon their inability to stop Lehi’s run game — namely Gonzalez — and constant struggles to establish a ground game of their own. An injured Helu appeared to be missing a step and the entire running efficiency took a hit and was ineffective. 

As a result of the loss, the Stallions suffered the team’s first loss of the season and were eliminated from the tournament. Lehi advances to the title game, which will take place on Nov. 18 back at the U of U’s stadium.

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