SALT LAKE CITY — When Timpview sophomore Isaiah Holloway muffed the opening kickoff, you had the feeling things wouldn’t be going the Thunderbirds' way. Four plays later, favorite East High School punched it into the end zone — taking an early 7-0 lead.
It proved to be the first and last significant mistake made by Timpview in its 32-14 semifinal victory.
Ball security was at a premium given the driving snowstorm that accompanied Friday’s semifinal game. Timpview adjusted to the conditions, took care of the football and forced or took advantage of five East turnovers.
Holloway himself rebounded from his early mistake and picked off a pass early in the second half, which turned into a Timpview touchdown and gave it a 19-14 lead.
“I was very disappointed about fumbling that first kickoff, but coaches encouraged me to just forget about it and move on, and that’s what I did,” said Holloway. “I fortunately got to redeem myself with that interception, and that was a great feeling.”
Holloway wasn’t alone in creating chaos against East’s vaunted triple-option attack. Charles Tu’a, Meisen Faumui, John McIlmoil and Britain Covey all recorded fumble recoveries, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“We knew we had to come out strong, hit them in the mouth and be as physical as they were,” said Faumui. “It’s not about size, it’s about heart, and we played with so much heart tonight. We created some turnovers and took advantage of the turnovers.”
Timpview coaches were very aware of the conditions that their team would play in on Friday and adjusted accordingly. Ball security was emphasized throughout the week, and players were simply encouraged to play their normal game.
“We prepared so much for this weather, but one of our coaches told us that ‘we’re playing in Lambeau field tonight boys,' and that was our mentality,” said quarterback Jake Lloyd. “Our mentality was to bring on the snow and that we’d go do some Lambeau leaps.”
While the Timpview offense sputtered at times, it was buoyed time and again by an aggressive and confident defense that held East to just 14 points and 217 total yards on top of creating five turnovers.
“I can’t tell you how much it means when you get a three-and-out on offense only to get the ball right back after a great play by the defense,” said Lloyd. “When our defense puts it in the situations they did, it just pumps you up — gives you back your energy and you know that you owe them. The defense stepped up big and won the game for us.”