Tom Smart, Deseret News
STANSBURY — These hard-charging Stallions ran the ball like, well ... Stallions.
Stansbury High, fueled by a superb performance from a trio of thoroughbred running backs led by Jackson Clausing, made their mascot mighty proud by steaming through Morgan High's defense for 296 yards rushing on their way to a 27-14 Homecoming victory over the Trojans in the two teams' Region 11 showdown Friday night.
Clausing had nearly half of those yards — 141 of them, on 17 carries — to help Stansbury, enjoying a banner year in its first season in the 3A ranks, improve to 3-0 in Region 11 and 5-1 overall. Morgan slipped to 1-2 and 4-2 with the loss.
Stevens had 56 yards on seven carries, including a 46-yard touchdown burst in the second quarter, and Case added 44 yards on five carries with a 35-yard scoring sprint in the second period as well. Sophomore quarterback Chase Christiansen chipped in with 47 yards on 12 carries, including a 2-yard TD plunge, and he threw for another 56 yards.
"They're all pretty good backs," said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen, who spread the carries around more than usual due to some injuries his team has been battling through. "We're beat up and we're pretty short-handed right now. ... It was a dogfight right to the end like I thought it would be.
"Clausing's just been there the longest, he's always played there, and we knew it was a big game and wanted to go with a guy that I'm really confident in. When it's on the line, you've got to go with the guys you know, and Jackson had a big night for us and did what he was supposed to do. We're lucky we've got three of them right now."
Junior linebacker Colton May amassed 17 tackles for the Stallions' defense, and Clausing contributed 11 tackles with an interception.
Case scored his second touchdown of the night on a pick-6, as he returned an interception 42 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that helped Stansbury put the game out of reach.
"That was a huge play and changed the whole momentum," Coach Christiansen said. "We needed something big to happen on defense — Morgan's always tough on defense and it was going kinda back and forth — and any time you get a momentum-changer like that and get a six in your favor deep in the game, it was awesome.
"Dacota Case is just a player. He's been huge for us. He's just been outstanding the last three games. He's just a flat stud."
Case said the defensive touchdown was a much bigger thrill for him than his rushing TD.
"The pick-6 — definitely," he said. "It's great to pick the ball, it feels great. The one on offense was all because of my line. I had a great kick block, and it made me wide-open for the touchdown.
"On the interception, I saw some Morgan players closing in on me and I didn't think I was gonna make it into the end zone.
"The good thing about our offense is we have a lot of backs that can run the ball. And I'm fine with blocking," Case said. "This is a big win for us. We're a great team.
He wouldn't get many arguments from the Morgan folks.
After a fumble stymied a Stansbury drive deep in Trojan territory late in a scoreless first quarter, the Stallions capitalized when Morgan came up short on a 4th-and-1 at its own 39-yard line early in the second period.
On the first play following a 15-minute power outage, Case broke loose for his 35-yard scoring scamper and a 7-0 Stansburgy lead at 9:53 of the second period.
Then late in the second quarter, Morgan fumbled the ball away at its own 43, and the Stallions again made the most of it. Stevens soon found daylight over the right side and went 46 yards to the end zone for a 13-0 halftime lead, as Clausing's interception ended the first half.
The Stallions made it 20-0 on their first possession of the third period, as they pounded the ball at Morgan's defense with a punishing ground game, and Chase Christiansen went the final 2 yards to pay dirt.
Morgan got on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter when Joe Kippen sliced the final 5 yards into the end zone.
Case came up with his TD interception return that made it 27-7 with 7:07 remaining to play, but Morgan refused to quit and Colby Skinner hooked up with sure-handed Boston Saunders on an 8-yard touchdown toss that trimmed the Trojans' deficit to 27-14 with 5:15 to play.
But Morgan could get no closer, and another Stansburgy interception on the game's final play was icing on the cake.