Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
In the days leading up to their Class 3A semifinal contest against Wasatch, all the Logan Grizzlies heard about was how they had been lucky.
Lucky to have had linebacker Jordan Ballam recover a blocked punt in the end zone to cap a miraculous comeback against Park City in the opening round.
Doubly lucky to have had the same player score again off a fumble recovery to scrape past Delta in the quarterfinals.
Well, the Grizzlies might've been fortunate or "hard-working," as they will quickly tell you to get past their first two postseason opponents. But they proved Thursday morning in a 48-24 win over Wasatch that there's a whole lot more to Logan football than luck.
Ballam, Logan's resident miracle-maker, was up to his usual antics again in the semifinal round. But this time, his big plays didn't save the Grizzlies.
Instead, they augmented a dominating performance.
Junior quarterback Jeff Manning tossed five touchdowns, and Logan's rushing attack, behind backup tailback Will Thornley's 116 yards, was dominant.
"We kind of took it personally," receiver Mike Hlavaty said of having his team repeatedly called lucky. "We came out and tried to show everyone that it doesn't have anything to do with luck.
"Everyone coming in said that Region 10 was going to be the dominant region and that we were overrated because we were in Region 11," added Hlavaty. "But I think this sends a message to everyone that we're here to play and we'll take ya."
From start to finish, Logan's spread offense left Wasatch's usually solid defense befuddled.
Starting running back KC Taylor finished with nine carries for 43 yards, but after watching the way Thornley rushed the ball early on, Logan coaches opted to keep giving him the ball drive after drive.
His consistent running helped set up Manning's passing attack, and the Grizzlies were off to the races from there.
"Our offense is predicated on we try to look at the defense first," said coach Mike Favero. "We're trying to get the right play calls. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but we were able to get some things that we felt like we could exploit and had some success and played hard."
Leading 14-10 with 7:16 left in the second quarter, Logan, thanks to Ballam, permanently seized momentum. After holding the Wasps to three-and-out, Ballam blocked Wasatch's ensuing punt and Logan recovered it at Wasatch's 16-yard line.
Even though the Grizzlies failed to punch the ball in, the play seemed to permanently turn the tide in Logan's favor.
"That was a big momentum-breaker because they were running the ball pretty well and that just stunned them after that," said Thornley.
In addition to the blocked punt, Ballam finished with a fumble recovery and a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Manning tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hlavaty at the end of the second quarter to put Logan up 20-10, and the junior tossed two quick TD strikes to begin the second half.From there, Logan's defense held Wasatch star running back Jake Salazar in check, and the Grizzlies now stand just one win away from their second 3A title in three years.
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