We saw the hole on the play before. We just trusted our line and our backs to make their blocks, and I followed them into the end zone. —Gage Manzione, Stansbury Quarterback
GARLAND — The Stansbury Stallions made the trek northward Friday night as they took on the Bear River Bears. Stansbury was able to grind out a 34-22 victory behind 151 rushing yards and three scores from bruiser Alex Mackay.
"I just go out there and try to run my best," Mackay said. "Running the football is all about effort, and I just try to fight for every yard."
Mackay put the Stallions up 7-0 midway through the first when he scored from 20 yards out, but Bear River answered quickly.
JarDee Nessen found Colton Jensen for a 72-yard touchdown, and the two point conversion was good, giving the Bears an 8-7 lead.
Mackay scored from 29 yards out with 4:18 left in the half to put the Stallions up 14-8, and the Stallions were in good position to score just before the half when Gage Manzione was picked off by Cole Fronk near the goal line, and Stansbury led by six heading to the locker room.
Stansbury faced a fourth down and three from the Bear River 15 with 9:05 left in the fourth quarter when Gage Manzione made a huge play for Stansbury. The junior quarterback took it 15 yards to the end zone, dragging multiple Bear River defenders with him, and giving Stansbury a 20-8 lead.
"We saw the hole on the play before," Manzione said. "We just trusted our line and our backs to make their blocks, and I followed them into the end zone."
Manzione, who is filling in for injured Utah State commit Chase Christiansen, finished with 117 yards rushing and one score, along with 71 passing yards and a touchdown.
"Gage isn't the fastest kid on the field, but he just refuses to go down," Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen said. "It's not easy to replace a three-year starter."
After Stansbury's Jordan Shields pinned the Bears back at their own 3 with a punt, Nessen and Jensen hooked up for 97 yards on the very next play, cutting the Stansbury lead to 20-15 midway through the fourth.
Manzione took the Stallions right back down the field, capping off the drive with a 16-yard TD pass to the speedy Hudson Conrad, who made a diving grab for the score. Stansbury led 27-15, and would score again just a few minutes later.
Mackay found the end zone for the third and final time, trucking a defender on the way, and giving the Stallions a 34-15 lead.
Bear River scored when Nessen ran it in from a yard out, but it was too late, and Stansbury held on.
Stansbury moves to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in 3AA North Region play. It will host Tooele next week. Bear River moves to 3-3 overall, and 1-2 in 3AA North Region play and will play at Payson next week.
CJ Pronk is a Deseret Digital Media intern and a Stansbury High School graduate. After serving an LDS Mission to the Dominican Republic, CJ will attend Southern Utah University. Follow him on Twitter @BigCeeJ3113.