SANDY — For three quarters, the Jordan Beetdiggers found themselves in unusual territory. The defense had given up 28 points, more than any other game this season, and the offense found itself in a slug-fest with a stout Cottonwood defense. Then the fourth quarter happened.
The Diggers overcame a shaky first three quarters to pull away with 21 points in the fourth for a 49-35 Region 3 victory over Cottonwood Friday night. The Diggers' defense hadn't given up more than 14 points in any game, but tightened the reins late to allow its offense to pull away.
Behind an offensive line that kept a stout Cottonwood front seven at bay, Jordan quarterback Austin Kafentzis had room to run from his spot in the shotgun and time to throw when necessary. The freshman had 275 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
The starting line of Ian Moes, Zack Larsen, B.J. Cavendar, Spencer Tosch and Aaron Rupena keyed an offense that racked up over 400 yards total, including 99 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Austin Grant.
"We challenged our line before the game, we wanted to come in and try to run the ball quite a bit," Jordan coach Eric Kjar said after the game. "Sometimes these games are good for you, just to see where you're at. Cottonwood is a good team with an explosive offense. I was really proud of our team as a whole."
Tied at 28-28 entering the fourth, the Diggers defense settled in, forcing three turnovers and sacking Cottonwood's Cooper Bateman twice. Meanwhile, Kafentzis put Jordan ahead early with a 39-yard touchdown run. He would spend the rest of the quarter keeping the Jordan offense rolling with big gains, then Grant would finish the drives with scores.
Bateman connected with Inoke Lotulelei for a late touchdown, but the game had long been decided by that point. The junior finished with 169 yards passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The final score obscured what had been a nail-biter for three quarters.
The teams traded scores for most of the first half. Jordan struck on their opening drive with a 12 yard run by quarterback Austin Kafentzis. The next two scores belonged to Lotulelei, with a 70-yard touchdown on a reverse followed by a 10-yard scoring reception from Bateman. Kafentzis took his turn again, running behind a series of downfield blocks en route to a 28-yard score and a 14-14 tie after the first quarter.
The freshman earned the next score as well, with an eight-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Down 21-14, Cottonwood wasted little time to tie the game at 21 with a short Bateman run just two minutes later.
The teams traded stalled possessions until the final three minutes of the half. Jordan would pull ahead with a short touchdown by Grant. The Beetdiggers took the 28-21 lead into halftime after Blake Miller intercepted Bateman's last-second pass into the end zone.