HIGHLAND — To those who thought there might be a quarterback controversy at Lone Peak: You can rest assured that there isn't.
The Knights, apparently, have room for both junior quarterback Chase Hansen and backup Talon Shumway in their backfield. And behind the explosive running of both, the Knights knocked off the Alta Hawks 28-24 Friday night to take sole possession of first place in Region 4 — a half game up on Pleasant Grove.
"We tried to prepare like this was just another game, but we knew we had to have this one to have a piece of that championship," Lone Peak coach Tony McGeary said.
Hansen rushed for 167 yards on 16 carries and threw for another 112. Shumway ran for 85 yards on 14 carries. Hansen had an 83-yard TD run and a 13-yard TD pass, and Shumway had a 20-yard TD run.
Combined, the two had a part in 364 of Lone Peak's 380 total yards.
"We love having them both in the backfield and they both made great contributions," McGeary said. "It's a team game and it really doesn't matter (where they play) as long as they both contribute."
Hansen did have his struggles, however, throwing two interceptions and fumbling the ball away once. But fortunately for the Knights, their defense came to the rescue, holding Alta to only 27 yards and one first down in the second half. The Knights also picked off two passes.
"The defense was stellar. It's the strength of our team and we relied a lot on them ... We held them in the second half when we needed to," McGeary said.
Lone Peak's biggest defensive stand actually came in the first half. After Alta's Bryan Engstrom took a swing pass from quarterback Boston Handley and ran 79 yards to pay dirt on the third play of the game, the Hawks had a chance to take a 14-0 lead when Jacob Knowles picked off a Hansen pass near midfield and raced down to Lone Peak's 7-yard line.
But the Knights forced the Hawks into a 23-yard field goal by Parker Timmerman, which gave Alta a 10-0 lead.
"I have lot of faith in our defense and they got the job done once again," Hansen said.
Feeling like they dodged a bullet, the Knights marched 74 yards on 10 plays to cut Alta's lead to 10-7. Shumway finished off the drive with runs of 27 and 20 yards.
Three plays later the Hawks tried to go deep but Hansen, playing safety for Lone Peak, tipped Handley's bomb away and the deflection was picked out of the air by Josh Stephen, who raced across the field and down the sideline for a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Hawks responded with their best drive of the night, an 80-yard march that Taylor Eyring completed with a 1-yard TD dive, to put Alta back ahead 17-14. But after the Hawks turned the ball over minutes later on a muffed punt, Hansen made them pay with a 13-yard TD toss to Cameron Deere, sending Lone Peak into halftime leading 21-17.
Neither team could get anything going in the third quarter until Hansen busted loose on the left side for an 83-yard run to the end zone with 31 seconds left in the third quarter, giving the Knights a 28-17 lead.14 comments on this story
"I made one cut and it was clear green from there, so that was just a big hole because the line and running backs blocked great," Hansen said.
But the Lone Peak quarterback then gave Alta life minutes later when his pass out in the right flat was again picked off by Knowles, who this time took it all the way to the end zone from 50 yards to trim Lone Peak's lead to 28-24.
But Alta couldn't get any second-half offense going, and the Hawks' last hope ended when Lone Peak's Kyle Hanneman picked off Handley in the final minute to seal things.