High school football: Juan Diego Soaring Eagle control the clock in shutout victory
DRAPER — Juan Diego employed a unique strategy against Granger Friday night. Namely, their idea was simply to keep the ball out of the Lancers' hands. The Soaring Eagle utilized a series of grueling drives that often took up over half a quarter en route to a grinding 21-0 home victory.
The 3A powerhouse (4-1) was led by running backs Cayden Sanchez (two touchdowns) and Brock Garn (one) on offense. The win marked the end of an undefeated run for Granger, who falls to 4-1 heading into Region 2 play.
The Lancers executed only seven drives, including two at the end of each half with less than a minute remaining. They were able to move the ball at times with tailback Asi Vakalahi, but were never able to gain much traction against the feisty Juan Diego defense.
"We've got to defend people with our offense sometimes," Soaring Eagle coach John Colosimo said after the game. "We didn't know if we could line up with them toe-to-toe, but we did. We did a good job against a big, physical front."
Juan Diego opened the game with a drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock, finished by Sanchez's 3-yard dive. The Lancers would then drive to the Juan Diego 34, only to be stuffed on a fourth-and-1 dive attempt.
The Soaring Eagle again took their sweet time, mounting another six-minute drive that took the game into the second quarter. Sanchez ran the ball in from the 4 for a 14-0 lead. Granger would get the ball back with less than a minute remaining in the half, but its drive stalled at the Juan Diego 22.
The Lancers came out strong to open the third quarter, driving the ball to the Soaring Eagle 26 behind Vakalahi and the arm of quarterback Jordan Hernandez. But a series of penalties forced the team into a fourth-and-31 and a punt. They wouldn't see the ball again until well into the fourth quarter.
Juan Diego ate nearly eight minutes off the clock during a bruising, methodical 21-play drive. 14 of those snaps were handoffs to Garn, one of which was a halfback pass that he completed to Chandler Krachun. Nearly halfway into the fourth quarter, Garn finished off the drive with a short touchdown.
"We felt them getting tired and we knew we had to keep pushing," Garn said. "We finally got them to break and were able to get some points on the board."
Normally the Soaring Eagle starting quarterback, Garn moved to halfback for the game. Junior Nick Markosian moved into the starting quarterback slot and played well enough for Colosimo to say the arrangement would continue into the region schedule.
"We'd been toying with the idea and thought we'd give it a shot," Colosimo said. "Nick played well. He completed some passes on third downs and managed the game and did a real nice job."
Both teams enter regional play next week, as Viewmont visits Granger and Juan Diego travels to Uintah.
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