4A football playoffs: Pine View upsets Desert Hills in thriller; Dixie, Crimson Cliffs also win in quarterfinals

ST. GEORGE — In a thrilling Friday night of high school football playoff action, two local teams won nailbiters and another staged an upset on the road to ensure that three of the four semifinalists for the 4A state football championship are from Southern Utah’s Region 10.

The No. 9 seeded Pine View Panthers upset top-seeded and No. 1 ranked Desert Hills by scoring a touchdown on the last play of the game, while No. 4 Dixie outlasted No. 5 Sky View in overtime by almost the same score.

Meanwhile, up at the northern end of the state, the No. 6 seed Crimson Cliffs Mustangs rolled to a convincing win over No. 3 Green Canyon in North Logan.

Pine View 37, Desert Hills 35

Pine View lined up on the Desert Hills 13-yard line with 4.9 seconds left as a back-and-forth, seesaw battle between the Region 10 rivals came down to the final play of the contest.

Pine View vs. Desert Hills, 4A football quarterfinals, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2021 | Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

With Pine View down by four points, a field goal was not an option. The Panthers needed a touchdown or their season was over.

Quarterback Tyler Brown took the snap and knew exactly where he was going with the football. Senior Turner Williams beat his man and cut to the front corner of the end zone. Brown delivered a perfectly thrown ball, Williams caught it for a touchdown and the Panthers won in dramatic fashion.

“We called the play, I had trust in him, he had trust in me,” Brown told St. George News in the chaotic celebration afterwards. The junior signal caller had a breakout game with 303 passing yards.

“The O-line blocked perfectly. I love my O-line,” Brown said. “It’s such a good feeling that these seniors get another game, get another chance to play. I love it.”

Both teams scored in explosive bursts. Austin Kogan got Pine View on the board with two field goals to start the game.

Desert Hills scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Tyden Morris, but the Panthers came right back with a 4-yard TD run from Keith Adams.

Dylan Becker’s interception return for a score put Pine View ahead 20-7, after which the Thunder’s Eric Olsen caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Noah Fuailetolo to make the score 20-14 at halftime.

Pine View vs. Desert Hills, 4A football quarterfinals, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

A lengthy third quarter saw the teams combine to score 35 points. Kogan kicked his third field goal, then Fuailetolo tossed two more touchdowns, a 50-yard strike to Olsen followed by a 28-yard toss to Lincoln Holmes that put Desert Hills briefly ahead, 28-23.

But then, Panther senior Tyson Moten took the ensuing kickoff back 96 yards for a momentum-grabbing touchdown.

“I’ve been telling everyone, I’ve been that boy,” Moten said. He also led Pine View with 12 pass receptions for 156 yards.

“I showed y’all what I’m about,” Moten said. “We’re on top still. We’re still that number one team.” 

A very well-designed and executed two-point conversion put Pine View up by three, 31-28.

However, Desert Hills answered again. Morris collected Fuailetolo’s fourth touchdown pass for 50 yards and a 35-31 lead that the Thunder held until the last play of the game.

Throughout the entire fourth quarter, the key for either team was just to make stops on defense. Pine View was able to make such a stop on a crucial fourth down with a little over a minute remaining.

“We stayed disciplined and did our job,” said Pine View defensive coordinator KJ Boyer. “We got off the field when we had to, that was the most three-and-outs we’ve had all year.”

Two seniors stepped up on defense for the Panthers. Marcus McKenzie returned from injury just in time for the playoffs.

“We dialed down on the discipline, we wanted to win,” McKenzie said after leading the team with seven tackles. “I wanted to fight for my team all throughout the season, but I knew I should wait it out because I knew it was gonna be worth it in the playoffs.”

Pine View linebacker Fa’agalu A’etonu had six tackles in the contest and swarmed to the football all night.

“The plan coming in was to hit them in the mouth hard in the beginning,” A’etonu said. “We never let our foot off the gas. We kept on playing hard. We weren’t selfish today. It was the team. We stepped up big time.”

Senior running back Keith Adams was a dominant force again for Pine View, breaking tackles and making sharp cuts, piling up 144 rushing yards and 56 receiving yards in the contest.

Adams was the one who coined the phrase “revenge tour” for Pine View, as now in the playoffs the Panthers will have a chance to defeat in succession all three Region 10 teams that had beaten them during the regular season.

“It’s big motivation,” Boyer said. “Just like Keith Adams said, Snow Canyon beat us, Desert Hills beat us, and now we get a chance for revenge against Dixie in the semifinals.” 

Dixie 36, Sky View 35, OT

During a time out with the season on the line, Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres asked the Flyers if they wanted to take the safe way out and kick an extra point to continue in overtime, or if they wanted to go for the win.

Dixie vs. Sky View, 4A football quarterfinals, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

“And they said they wanted to go for two, and Bronson wasn’t going to let us lose today,” Monkres told St. George News, referring to Dixie’s senior quarterback, Bronson Barben. “He played a heck of a game, he kept battling, he did a great job today. He’s just a great kid.”

Barben rolled left on the play and found Jakheo Mitchell wide open in the back corner of the end zone for the game winning 2-point conversion pass.

Sky View had all the momentum until then, scoring on the last play of the game on a Hail Mary to tie the score at 28-28 and force overtime.

The two-time defending 4A state champion Bobcats battled Dixie all game. Senior quarterback Garrett Zollinger scored on Sky View’s overtime possession on a run up the middle, briefly putting the visitors ahead, 35-28.

“I knew they were not going to give up. They’ve got a lot of tradition up there, they’re a good football team,” Monkres said. “We made a couple of mistakes down the stretch but made up for them in overtime, so we’re moving on.”

Senior Derek Kesterson scored the Dixie touchdown run in overtime on a sweep left, setting up Barben and Mitchell’s game-winning conversion play.

The game started out as a defensive battle as both teams struggled to put drives together. Zollinger scored first in the contest, a 1-yard touchdown run halfway through the second quarter that put the Bobcats ahead 7-0.

Dixie got a crucial tying score 15 seconds before halftime as Barben threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kesterson.

The defenses regained control and neither team scored again until Zollinger’s 49-yard touchdown strike to Michael Ferguson put Sky View ahead 14-7 with just 42 seconds left in the third quarter.

Dixie vs. Sky View, 4A football quarterfinals, St. George, Utah, Oct. 29, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

Barben’s 4-yard touchdown run evened the score 14-14 early in the fourth, but Sky View answered right back when Zollinger threw a 77-yard touchdown bomb to Davis Hall to give the Bobcats a 21-14 lead.

But Shea Anderson’s 4-yard touchdown run followed by Seth Takau’s 15-yard scoring scamper gave Dixie the lead at 28-21 with 56 seconds left, setting the stage for the late game heroics from both teams.

“I’m confident in my boys,” Dixie senior defensive tackle and team captain Kenneth Ericksen said. “That’s one thing here at Dixie we take pride in, our connections run deep at every single position. We had a couple of hiccups, but I was confident we would recover. We always do.”

Dixie gets one more game at least, this one a rematch against Region 10 rival Pine View for the chance to go to the state championship game.

“I’m excited,” Ericksen said. “It’s always a blessing to see another game, especially when you’re a senior.”

The Dixie vs. Pine View semifinal game is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. next Friday at Dixie High School.

Crimson Cliffs 31, Green Canyon 10

At North Logan, the Crimson Cliffs Mustangs built a 17-0 first half lead over the Green Canyon Wolves, then added a pair of late touchdowns to seal the upset win.

Crimson Cliffs vs. Green Canyon, 4A football quarterfinals, North Logan, Utah, Oct. 29, 2021 | Photo by Clint Allen, Cache Valley Daily / St. George News

Senior running back Easton Droubay rushed for all four of Crimson Cliffs’ touchdowns, two in each half. He finished with 152 yards rushing on 26 carries and also caught two passes for 14 yards.

The Wolves finally got on the board with a touchdown in the third quarter, then added three more points on a field goal a few minutes later to close the gap to seven points, 17-10. However, Droubay made a 1-yard scoring run to start off the fourth quarter, then added another 1-yard TD a couple minutes later. Crimson had quickly regained possession after the first of Droubay’s back-to-back scores, thanks to a quarterback sack by Jackson Griffith that forced Green Canyon fumble that the Mustangs’ Nate Jorgensen recovered.

“We played very well as a team tonight,” Crimson Cliffs coach Jaron Tate told St. George News. “The defense and specials teams did good to win the field position battle, and our offense was able to capitalize on their opportunities to score.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team and the way they stayed together when faced with adversity,” Tate added. “Green Canyon is a good team and they had success against us, especially in the third quarter. Our team was able to overcome that adversity together and take back the momentum.”

The game was a rematch of the first week of the season, when Green Canyon defeated the Mustangs 17-13 in an Aug. 13 preseason game at Green Canyon.

The Mustangs, now 8-4 on the season, have earned a repeat trip to Cache Valley next Friday, when they’ll face the No. 2 seeded Ridgeline Riverhawks at Millville. Ridgeline defeated Logan 50-7 in their quarterfinal matchup Friday evening.

“As we look ahead to Ridgeline, we know they are a good team and we will have to play at our best to win,” Tate added. “We know it will have to be a team effort and we will rely on our seniors to lead us on and off the field.”
— written by Jeff Richards

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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