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SALT LAKE CITY — The championship chase turned into a championship Chase.
And there was absolutely no way to catch him.
Lone Peak quarterback Chase Hansen etched his name into the Utah high school record books with a stellar performance, using his arm and his legs to lead the Knights to a convincing 41-21 victory over a frustrated Fremont High team for this year's 5A state title.
Hansen, who's headed for the University of Utah next year, threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 233 yards and two more TDs as Lone Peak capped its perfect 14-0 season with the first state championship in school history.
"I don't know how to put this into words right now," said Hansen, whose 475 yards of total offense rank as the second-most in state championship-game history. "I love my teammates. We did this for so many reasons ... these fans, this community, an undefeated season. I don't even know what to say.
"Our defense won that game; our coaching staff's amazing. I'm just overwhelmed right now.
"I'm just a quarterback on a really good team in a really good program," Hansen said, downplaying his gigantic role in the Knights' triumph. "I'm just truly blessed and I'm thankful I got to play with those teammates. I couldn't ask for better teammates. This opportunity and experience is unbelievable. This memory right here will never leave me. I'll remember this one for quite some time. Eventually I'll be up here, but what an honor it was to play on this field, and I'm going to enjoy this for a long time."
Hansen, who will serve an LDS mission following is freshman year, had 398 of those yards in the first half alone, when he had a hand in all four touchdowns as the Knights raced to a 28-13 halftime lead. His 233 yards rushing were the fifth-most in championship-game history, and his five total touchdowns matched the second-most ever in a title game.
Hansen hooked up with Micah Hannemann on touchdown passes of 34 and 8 yards, and Connor Humphrey caught a 24-yard TD toss from Hansen, who also had short scoring plunges of 1 and 2 yards in the first half. Talon Shumway scored the Knights' other touchdown on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"We just took it game by game," Hannemann said of Lone Peak's march to the title. "We didn't look ahead to the state championship until this week, and finally we came in and got it done. It means a ton to us and to all those fans over there."
After allowing Jordan to score 41 points in a wild 45-41 semifinal victory a week earlier, the Knights buckled down and limited Fremont to just 309 yards of total offense. Lone Peak also came up with four interceptions — by Brody Berry, Josh Buck, Shumway and Spencer Reinstein, who returned his pick 50 yards to help set up the Knights' final score.
Berry also blocked a Fremont punt, which led to another Lone Peak touchdown, while Shumway swiped a Fremont pitchout to set the stage for another one of the Knights' TDs. Kurtis Taufa had 10 tackles, including three for losses, a sack and forced a fumble for Lone Peak's opportunistic defense.
"I think we stepped it up a lot from last game, definitely," Reinstein said. "Last game was probably one of our worst games of the year. We were just really up for it today; everyone was focused and ready to play."
For Fremont (10-3), which lost in the state finals for the second year in a row, Jordan Preator had a 99-yard kickoff return for the Wolves' first touchdown, and Nick Vigil broke off a 55-yard scoring scamper that pulled Fremont within 21-13 in the second quarter.
But it was all Lone Peak after that, until Fremont quarterback Cooper Kelley scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds left.
"Fremont is an incredible team, what an opponent," Hansen said. "I couldn't have written the script any better for my senior year.
"Our offensive line played incredible against the best D-line in the state.
Best o-line in the state right there, they did an incredible job. It's a team game, and our defense came up big. Our o-line opened up some holes, and that incredible defense of ours.
"I made some mistakes and the defense is the reason we won that game," added Hansen, who threw an interception and also lost the ball on a fumble.
"They came up huge; they came up huge. That's how we did it all year, we did it as a team. They picked me up every time I made a mistake.
"Numbers are in the past now. Numbers on the scoreboard and who won and lost are what matters."
Lone Peak coach Tony McGeary gave his star quarterback most of the credit, however.
"We knew we could throw the ball on 'em," McGeary said. "Chase Hansen was a man. ... He just proved why he's the best quarterback in the state tonight.
I mean, it was unbelievable the way he played.
"I give Fremont all the credit in the world. ... It was our night. Our defense stepped up like we've been waiting for them to do all year. I can honestly say we had the offense and the defense in sync tonight. It was just unbelievable, unbelievable."
Hansen certainly made a believer out of Fremont coach Kory Bosgieter.
"It's difficult to mimic what he does in practice," Bosgieter said of the Knights' quarterback. "We had a plan to contain him, but we didn't execute it as well as we could have. He's a great player."
After missing an early field goal attempt, the Knights put together an 89-yard scoring drive which was spearheaded by Hansen's running and passing. He connected on throws to J.D. Spencer, Shumway, Sam Beck and Humphrey that vaulted Lone Peak inside the Fremont 2-yard line. Hansen took it in from there himself for a 7-0 lead with 3:14 remaining on the first-quarter clock.
It didn't take long for the Silver Wolves to get even. On the ensuing kickoff, Preator hauled in the kick inside his 1-yard line, ran up the middle of the field and then broke to the outside, taking it all the way back for an electrifying 99-yard touchdown return to tie it at 7.
Then it was Lone Peak's turn again, and the Knights didn't waste any time.
Hansen completed third-and-long passes to Shumway and Humphrey to keep the 83-yard drive going, and a 35-yard completion to Shumway put Lone Peak at the Fremont 6. Two plays later, Hansen rolled to his right, couldn't find an open receiver and then sliced into the end zone himself from 2 yards out to make it 14-7.
Then after Fremont's Austin Johnson recovered Hansen's fumble to give the Silver Wolves renewed hope, Shumway swiped a Fremont pitchout to put the Knights right back in business again. After Hansen scrambled for a first down on third-and-10, he found Hannemann in the end zone for a perfectly thrown 34-yard TD toss that extended Lone Peak's lead to 21-7.
But before the Knights could start celebrating, Fremont battled back.
Preator came in at quarterback and picked up 25 yards. Then on the next play, Preator pitched it to Vigil, who went wide and then broke back across the field, outrunning the Knights' defense for a 55-yard scoring scamper.
The PAT kick was blocked, but Fremont had new life at 21-13 with 7:09 remaining in the second period.63 comments on this story
But Lone Peak would have none of that. Hansen soon broke loose on a 63-yard gain that put the Knights at the Fremont 8. From there, Hansen hit Hannemann in the front corner of the end zone, and Trevor Robb's PAT kick put the Knights on top 28-13, a score that stood up until halftime.
After Fremont's first drive of the second half stalled, Lone Peak's Berry blocked the Silver Wolves' punt at the Fremont 24 and the Knights were knocking on the door again. On the next play, Hansen flipped a 24-yard TD pass to Humphrey to extend Lone Peak's lead to 35-13.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Reinstein picked off a Fremont pass and returned it to the Wolves' 38, and Shumway soon scored to make it 41-13.