Friday night lights turned into Wednesday night highlights for the Spanish Fork Dons as they beat Region 8 newcomer Wasatch, 48-28, in front of a cheerful home crowd on Senior Night.
In a game that had postseason implications for both clubs, defense was tossed out the window in the second half and the contest quickly became an offensive coordinator’s dream.
The Dons, on this night, did not look like a team clinging to a postseason berth. They ran the ball with ease — mostly highlight reel runs by quarterback Jason Money, and ate up chunks of the clock as they wore down the visiting team’s defense.
Big plays were the order of the night for both teams as five of the 11 touchdowns scored between the two were of 30 yards or more. Money scored on runs of 78 and 39 yards and teammate Brandon Norris ran one in from the 31-yard line.
However, when Wasatch was able to find the end zone, the home team answered, usually with a backbreaking drive that took away any momentum the Wasps could muster.
Wasatch received the opening kick-off and immediately began marching down the field. When the drive stalled at the Dons' 27, Wasp place-kicker Skyler Southam missed a 44-yard field goal.
Spanish Fork’s first play from scrimmage sent a message to the opposing team when Money took off on a 50-yard gain. Three plays later, Taylor Noles ran the ball in from five yards out and it was 7-0 after the PAT.
The Wasps had consecutive three-and-outs, with the latter putting the Dons deep in their own territory at the 13. But Money and crew went to work on the defense running and passing at will. They pushed the visitor backwards until an 18-yard run by Money and the extra point kick early in the second quarter made it 14-0.
The home team went for the kill with an on-side kick it recovered, sending the Wasatch defense back on the field. But the Wasps remained stout and managed to keep the Dons off the scoreboard.
With three minutes left in the half, Davis, who was beginning to get a feel for the Dons' rush, escaped the pocket, rolled to his left and found Connor for their first touchdown of the game. Southam’s PAT made it 14-7.
Spanish Fork tried to put more points on the board before the half. What looked like a sure touchdown drive was thwarted by a huge Wasatch defensive stand at the 4-yard line to close out the half.
The home team received the second-half kick-off and quickly took advantage of a Wasatch defense that was not at its best on this night.
On the second play from scrimmage, Money took off through and around the Wasp defenders, delighting the crowd, for a 78-yard touchdown run. The PAT by Jade Nielsen made the score 21-7.
Wasatch, attempting to strike back quickly, went to the air on the first play, but the pass by Davis was intercepted between two Wasp receivers. Less than two minutes later, already inside Wasp territory, Money hit receiver Joe Anderson for a 12-yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and Wasatch was in a 28-7 hole with 8:37 still remaining in the third quarter.
The visiting team would not surrender, though. With its leading rusher this season, tailback Hunter Pella, on the sideline with an elbow injury, head coach Steve Coburn kept the ball in the air. This series, Davis repeatedly found Connor in open space that the big receiver was able to turn into good gains.
With 1:34 left in the third quarter, Connor snared a Davis pass for a 33-yard score and the Wasps had life, closing the gap to 28-14.
Time wasn't on their side in this game, however, especially with the potent offensive attack by the Dons behind their quarterback. With .20 seconds on the clock in the third, Money took to his right for a 39-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed, making it 34-14.
Spanish Fork blew it open after Wasatch failed to get a first down on its next drive. It only took three plays once inside Wasp territory for tailback Brandon Norris to take a draw play to pay dirt for a 31-yard run that made it 41-14 after the PAT was successful.
Wasatch kept its nose to the grindstone despite being 27 points down with under eight minutes remaining in the game. Tailback Jon Durrant, who has proven to be an effective runner for the Wasps this season, took a handoff from the one-yard line and scored his second touchdown of the season after a good Wasatch drive.
Once back on the field, Spanish Fork's Norris added a 15-yard touchdown run for the Dons to cap an 80-yard drive, to put 48 points on the scoreboard, their highest point total of the season.
Connor’s third touchdown reception of the game for Wasatch came with four minutes remaining. On fourth and goal from the seven, Davis found the receiver who totaled 131 yards on seven catches, cutting across the end zone. Connor snared the pass with a great juggling catch to give his team its fourth touchdown on the night.
Wasatch played hard and had several bright moments in the game, but the night belonged to the more athletic Dons, who broke tackles and outran the Wasps' banged-up and tiring defense throughout most of the game.
Davis, the black and gold’s sophomore quarterback, who was making his third start of the year, continued to show improvement. Despite only connecting on 19-42 attempts and being intercepted three times, he passed for 286 yards and had three touchdowns to Connor. He was also the Wasps' leading ground gainer on the night, picking up 95 yards.
The loss was a hard one for Wasatch. It more than likely eliminated the Wasps from postseason play as they host No. 1 Region 8 team Timpview next week for Wasatch's final region game.
High School Football: Spanish Fork runs over Wasatch in 11-touchdown gameComment on this story
Wasatch sophomore quarterback, Garrett Davis, was the Wasp's only real threat on offense passing for 286 yards and three touchdowns and gaining 95 tough yards on the ground.
High School Football: Spanish Fork runs over Wasatch in 11-touchdown game
A Wasatch defensive stand to close out the first half was huge, but the momentum did not carry over into the second half for the Wasp defense.
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: email@example.com. To contribute to DNews Preps for your area, enquire at 801.237.2143.