HURRICANE — With 29 seniors, all of whom were part of a team that lost the state championship on the last play of the season last year, the Hurricane Tigers are not having any problem staying focused in the 2010 3A State Football Playoffs.
An intense Hurricane squad scored touchdowns on six of its first seven possessions en route to a 42-13 rout of Emery Friday evening. The win earns the Tigers their third straight trip to "The Turf," also known as Rice-Eccles Stadium, home of the state semifinals and finals.
"It may sound kind of boring, but we were focused on fundamental football and execution this week," said Hurricane offensive coordinator Steve Pearson, whose offense averaged 11.2 yards per play in the blowout win. "With all the upsets that have happened, you never know what can happen. We came out with some intensity."
Hurricane scored on its first three drives, some of them in spectacular fashion.
The Tigers opened the game by going 69 yards in eight plays with Trann (Tray) Smith going the final 17 on an off-tackle play. After stopping the Spartans, Hurricane marched 61 yards in just three plays. Robert Reeve sprinted around the left side for a 55-yard TD for the capper. He was not touched on the play.
"The offensive line played well," Pearson said. "I'm pretty sure I've never had a game in which everything worked so well. Did we really average 11 yards a play?"
The Tigers made it 21-0 early in the second quarter when Smith scored on a long one. He took an inside handoff and sprinted through a huge hole, then accelerated past the Emery defensive backs. When the dust had cleared, Smith was standing in the end zone with a 70-yard TD run to his credit. It was his longest of the year by 18 yards. Smith finished the game with 130 rushing yards and 22 receiving yards.
Adam Long put the Tigers ahead 28-0 just before halftime on a pinpoint out pass to Zac Prince, who juked a defender and leaned into the end zone for an 8-yard hookup.
Jarom Healy and Taylor Parker added second-half scores as Hurricane led 42-0 before clearing the bench in the third quarter.
Emery finally broke into the scoring column with a 22-yard run by Taylor Cox with 5:55 to play.
A fumble set up the Spartans' other score, a five-yard TD run by Colten Fasselin.
"The goal is always to get to The Turf," Pearson said. "Now we are there, we don't care who we play. Sure, we'd like to see Juan Diego again after what's happened the last two years. But we'll play whoever. Right now we're going to get ready for the Delta-Desert Hills winner."
Hurricane, now 11-1 on the season, amassed 424 yards offense on just 38 offensive plays. The Tigers were four-for-five on third-down conversions and had 18 first downs. They did not punt and the only possessions they did not score on were a missed 50-yard field goal by Corey Edwards and that late fumble. Emery got 68 rushing yards each from Fasselin and Cox, but 112 of their 206 total yards came in the fourth quarter against the Hurricane reserves.
Hurricane moves on to the state semifinals Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium against the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal at Delta between the Rabbits and the Desert Hills Thunder.