STANSBURY PARK – The Dixie Flyers made the long trip up to Stansbury Friday night to take on the undefeated Stansbury Stallions in a game that would decide a trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Star QB Blake Barney was unstoppable for the Flyers, carrying them to a 20-13 victory over the undefeated Region 11 champions. Barney finished with 21 rushes for 107 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing for 115 yards on 12-25 passing. Chase Christiansen added 191 total yards and two rushing touchdowns for the Stallions.
With the victory, Dixie earns a coveted spot in next week's 3A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“Our offensive line was outstanding tonight,” said Barney. “They played big tonight, and we were able to pick up big first downs when we needed them.”
The Flyers got things started early on the opening kickoff, taking it 91 yards to the end zone. Chris Whetten caught the ball, followed a block, hit the left sideline, and raced all the way for six points.
Each team exchanged three-and-outs or turnovers for the rest of the first quarter, and it seemed that neither offense could find the end zone. That was until early in the second quarter, when the Stallions were able to tie the game. Stansbury put together a nine play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Christiansen to tie the game at 7 apiece.
Dixie answered with a 15-play, 65-yard drive that ended at the Stansbury 1-yard line. The Flyers went for it on fourth-and-less than a yard, and the Stallion defense was able to make a stand. Barney took the snap and raced towards the end zone, but Stansbury linebacker Colton May made the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
After a punt by the Stallions, Dixie got the ball back, looking to take the lead into halftime. The Flyers did just that, taking the ball 47 yards, and capping off the drive with a 5-yard run by Barney that gave them a 14-7 lead at halftime.
The Stallions got the ball to start the second half, and wasted no time getting down the field. Chase Christiansen found Austen Kincaid on a 42-yard pass on the first play of the drive, and the Stallions were in business.
After big plays by its defense, Dixie was able to force Stansbury into a 45-yard field goal attempt. The Stallions missed it wide left, and Dixie took over.
After a Dixie punt, the Stallions took over at their own 22 and drove 78 yards in 13 plays. Christiansen found the end zone on a 4-yard run, and the game appeared to be tied. The PAT was missed though, and Dixie held onto a 14-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Flyers make sure it kept the lead for good with 10:25 left in the fourth on yet another Barney run — this time from 3 yards out. On the previous play, Barney sliced through the Stallions defense for a 16-yard gain, setting up the touchdown.
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After the Stallions were forced to punt with just around eight minutes to play, the Flyers sent their offense on the field to finish the game. The Flyers ate up the rest of the clock, and converted on several third and fourth downs, including a fourth-and-1 from the Stansbury 14-yard line with under two minutes to play. As has happened all season, the Flyers looked to Barney for one more big play. He took the ball all the way to the Stansbury 1, and the Flyers took three knees to seal the victory.
With the win, the Flyers move onto the semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium where they will face Juan Diego, who beat the Flyers 41-0 in the first round last year. The Stallions end their season at 11-1.
CJ Pronk is a Deseret Digital Media intern and a senior at Stansbury High School.