HOLLADAY — The Bountiful Braves opened the 2011 season playing a group of titans that included Lone Peak, Mountain View, Logan and crosstown rival Viewmont.
Coach Larry Wall wouldn't have it any other way.
He believes early-season battles against those teams toughened his squad for the postseason. Friday night, the Braves turned the tide by beating Olympus 34-14 in a 4A quarterfinal game, handing these Titans their first loss on their new field.
"We came out and we were efficient," Wall said. "(Quarterback) Cam (Zollinger) was in a zone. We got first downs and that had to be demoralizing to them (the Titans)."
Junior running back Jakob Hunt rushed for 169 yards on 39 carries and Bountiful dominated time of possession in building a 27-0 halftime lead. The Braves then held off Oly's fourth-quarter rally to advance to play Logan next week in a 4A semifinal at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Olympus ended its year with a 9-2 record. The Titans were the Region 7 champions and had their best record since going undefeated in 1998.
First-year coach Aaron Whitehead, who said before the game the Titans would need to play a near-perfect game to win, admitted this contest started badly.
"We struggled up front," he said. "Our goal at halftime was to spread them out and we had some success, but we started this game too slowly."
The Titans actually had the advantage early. They won the coin flip, deferred and had a strong south wind at their backs. Then, early in the second quarter, a storm front arrived and changed the wind direction, giving Oly the wind advantage again.
Bountiful, however, had a much-stronger line, which made things easier for Zollinger and Hunt.
The Braves took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards on 12 plays. A third-down pass from Zollinger to Tanner Redding kept the drive alive and Zollinger found Redding again later on a 22-yard scoring pass.18 comments on this story
Oly couldn't move the ball on its initial drive and its punter mishandled the fourth-down snap, giving Bountiful the ball at the Titans' 30-yard line. It took 10 plays, but Zollinger found the end zone on 4th-and-1 and the Braves had a 14-0 advantage and all the momentum.
Zollinger completed nine of his first 10 passes, and Hunt and Jack Fabrizio helped Bountiful move the chains. By halftime, Bountiful had a 216-45 advantage in total yards and Hunt's two second-quarter scores made it 27-0.
Oly wouldn't go quietly. Brandon McBride's 44-yard reception electrified the crowd. He gave the team added?momentum a few minutes later with a nice catch on a fourth-down play. This time, he eluded three Bountiful defenders and dove into the end zone.
Nico Bronzati then intercepted a pass and QB Scott Porter found Chandler Thornton behind the secondary on the next play on a 48-yard touchdown throw. The Titans had the momentum briefly until Ryan Curtis intercepted a pass and the Braves' offense again went back to work.