Stansbury football coach Eric Alder might want to patent his halftime speech from Friday’s home football game against Tooele. Whatever he said definitely worked as the Stallions rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit to score four touchdowns in the second half and win an important Region 7 game 29-14 against crosstown rival Tooele.
“Coach Alder told us he wasn’t pleased with our effort and that they (Tooele) outworked us in the first half,” said Stansbury’s junior quarterback Ezra Harris. “He said they were more physical than we were, and that we weren’t executing.”
Momentum swung the Stallions’ way about 4 minutes into the second half when Harris fired a long pass that was tipped by a defender, and then tipped about three times by receiver Dylan Hamilton who eventually hauled it in and raced to the end zone to slice Tooele’s lead to 14-6. The play covered 65 yards.
“I was scared. I had two safeties on me and I was juggling the ball. It hit my hands and hit my helmet and I tipped it three or four times before catching it,” Hamilton said.
Coach Alder said the team didn’t make any major adjustments at halftime from what they were doing in the first half. He said the difference was his team’s effort in the second half..
“They (Tooele) are a good football team and they were coming in here with a 5-0 record and riding high with two players who will play major college football. I could sense though that our kids were ready. The week of this game is always a little different.”
Harris and Hamilton indicated they had played against University of Utah commit Mateaki Helu before.
“We weren’t afraid of him or anything,” Harris said and Hamilton agreed.
Tooele coach Andru Jones said his team fell apart in the third quarter and couldn’t get Stansbury’s offense off the field as the Stallions took control.
“The third quarter was our worst quarter of the year and I take the blame for the loss,” Jones said. “We haven’t been in a close game for a long time and had to play a full game. Stansbury didn’t give up while other teams kind of gave up after we had big leads at halftime.”
After the Stallions scored their first touchdown, they completed a pass for a 2-point conversion to make it 14-8 Tooele with 8:32 left in the third quarter.
Tooele punted on its next possession and the Stallions went to work again with four straight pass completions, three to Hamilton and one to Brock Wilson.
On fourth-and-five at the 11, Hamilton pitched to Nate Bushnell who sprinted to the end zone to tie the game 14-14. The PAT from Reeve Norman gave Stanbury its first lead in the game at 15-14 with 4:22 in the third quarter.
Tooele soon punted again and after a penalty, the Stallions had good field position at the THS 35. Bushnell was off to the races once again and churned his way down to the Tooele 9-yard-line. Two plays later Stansbury scored its third third-quarter touchdown when Harris kept the ball and plowed into the end zone to make it 22-14 with the PAT kick from Norman with 2:02 remaining in the third.
Tooele moved the ball inside Stansbury territory thanks to a good return by Gabe Medina on a short kick.
With the ball at the SHS 48, the Buffaloes ended up going nowhere and the Stallions took over on downs at their own 48 after a fourth-down incomplete pass by Tooele.
The Stallions drove methodically down to the Tooele 35 where they faced fourth-and-four. Hamilton tossed a pass to Dreyton Rowley to the 23-yard line.
Bushnell carried three times to the 12 where Harris scrambled and weaved his way through the Tooele defense for the Stallions’ fourth TD of the second half. THE PAT made it 29-14 with 7:59 left in the game.
The final minutes of the game included a pair of interceptions. Bronson Larrat picked off a pass for the Buffaloes followed by an interception by Stansbury’s Hamilton.
Tooele hit on all cylinders from the start of the game. Helu ran left on the first play 27 yards to the SHS 43. Two plays later, quarterback Payton Sprouse scrambled and ran to the 24. He later hit Medina on an 18-yard TD pass to give Tooele the lead at 7-0 with the kick from Brady Grgich just 2 minutes into the game.
Tooele scored its second and final touchdown 5 seconds into the second quarter on a drive that started at the Tooele 13-yard line midway through the first quarter. Helu was able to get to the THS 29 on three runs followed by a 44-yard pass down the sideline to Dylan Makoni to the Stansbury 27.
The Buffaloes moved to the 2-yard line where Helu ran left for a touchdown to give Tooele a 14-0 lead 5 seconds into the second quarter.
Updated 5A RPI rankings now have Stansbury fifth, Tooele seventh, Uintah 10th, Cedar Valley 11th and Timpanogas 12th.
Stanbury plays at Cedar Valley Friday, and Tooele hosts Mountain View, which is ranked 30th.