1A high school football championship: Duchesne fights off tough LCA team for title
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
HEBER CITY — Duchesne overcame a shaky first half to beat Layton Christian Academy 35-9 for the 1A state championship Saturday.
Not only did the Eagles win it all, they extended their winning streak to 22 consecutive games including a perfect 2011 season.
"You can't look ahead," said Duchesne coach Billy Hoopes. "You can only go one game at a time and really one play at a time. These kids have done a great job staying focused. There were times they weren't challenged this year, but whenever they did they responded."
They responded in the championship game in a big way. Three out of the first four Duchesne possessions ended in a fumble. LCA failed to capitalize on the first two, but the third directly resulted in a 41-yard LCA field goal by Kyle Yockey that put Duchesne in a 3-0 hole.
The field goal seemed to light a fire under Duchesne. Macoy Young returned the kickoff to the 45, and then three plays later broke free at the 32 for Duchesne's first score of the game.
The Eagles tried to capitalize on the momentum with an onside kick, which they recovered, but were unable to convert it into points.
"There was a big swing of momentum," said Hoopes. "We went with the onside kick and we ended up getting it. We didn't end up capitalizing on it though."
Duchesne did capitalize on a fumbled snap on LCA's fourth down play just minutes later. LCA was going to punt from its own 16, but Yockey had trouble handling the snap and touched his knee down trying to recover the ball. Duchesne took over on LCA's 4. Two plays later Young scored from the 6 to give Duchesne the 14-3 lead.
LCA responded with a 65-yard drive in the final two minutes of the half. Eliyah Mayberry capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to put LCA back in the game. The extra point was blocked by Duchesne, which took a 14-9 lead into the half.
"It was a little nerve-wracking in the first half," said Hoopes. "These guys (LCA) came out with a great game plan. We didn't play very well. We put the ball on the ground a lot in the first half. We made some adjustments at the half and the kids executed perfectly.
"They couldn't have done a better job. They knew they played bad in the first half and came out and worked their butts off."
The adjustments and execution paid off in a big way for Duchesne who scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to put the game away.
Young began the second half with a kickoff return to the LCA 32 yardline. Shiaba Allen then handed the ball off four straight times to Braiden Despain who had carries of 21, 4, 5, and then 3 yards for the touchdown. Allen's run for the two-point conversion put Duchesne ahead 22-9.
LCA's unsuccessful fake punt at midfield gave Duchesne the ball which resulted in another 36-yard touchdown run by Despain that gave the Eagles a 28-9 lead.
LCA fumbled on it's next play from scrimmage to give the ball to Duchesne on the LCA 29. Allen took the ball in for the touchdown on the next play to account for the final score of 35-9.
Interestingly, of 19 pass attempts in the game, there was only one completion. Running back Kade Harris connected with Allen on the final play of the first half. The wind and cold made the game a ground battle.
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