MANTI — Beaver coach Steve Hutchings knew that his potent running game wouldn't be enough to beat the Manti Templars. "We'll have to be able to throw the ball," he said prior to the game."
The Beavers completed six of 23 passes for 123 yards, but it wasn't enough as the Templars shut down the Beaver running game to earn a 38-7 win and advance to the semi-finals to play Grand County.
"They're a solid team," said Manti coach Cole Meacham of the Beavers. "We had to scout them pretty hard to come up with a game plan."
That game plan was a pretty simple three-step strategy.
"We need to get three-plus yards on every carry, be plus-three on turnovers and our defense needs to hold them to three-and-out," Meacham said.
The Templars executed that plan to near perfection.
The Manti defense, anchored by Koleton Moon and Austin Jackson, held the normally productive trio of Beaver runners to 49 yards on the ground. The Beavers picked up a first down on the first series, but didn't move the chains again until late in the game when replacement quarterback Michael Roberts completed a 39 yard pass to Kendall White.
Although Manti also had a sub-par running game, they used seven different ball carriers to gain 127 yards, averaging 2.88 yards per carry. White set up the only score for the Beavers with an interception of a Connor Aste pass, but Manti had two interceptions, one each by Jackson and Colin Haymond and a pair of fumble recoveries, one by moon and the other by Tristan Olsen, to get their plus-three in turnovers.
Taylor Soper led the Templars with 42 yards on seven carries. Austin Jackson rushed for 31 yards and Zane Stevens was back from an injury to carry for 12 yards. All three ran for touchdowns.
Aste completed nine of 13 passes for 208 yards. His favorite receiver was T.J. Pogroszewski, who caught five passes for 139 yards and a score.
"T.J. just runs great routes and our offensive line gave Conner time to find him," Meacham said. The fifth Manti TD came on a 26 yard interception return by Haymond.
Carlo Garcia kicked a 35 yard field goal for the first score of the game and was perfect on PATs for Manti.
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For the Beavers Logan Lozano rushed for 23 yards, Jesse McMullin left the game at the end of the third period with an injury after running for nine yards. Kasen Hutchings completed three of 12 passes for 59 yards, Roberts was three of nine for 64 yards. White caught a 36 yard TD pass. Meacham was impressed with how well Beaver played the run. "I think number 39 (White) is nicknamed 'The Freak'," he said. "He's a great player."
He was also pleased with his team's defensive effort.
"Beaver's a solid team, especially running the ball," he said. "To hold them to less than 50 yards, that's tough. Our kids busted their tails."