Grand scored on its first two possessions as it opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Red Devils added another pair of touchdowns in the second period to push their lead to 28-0 with just over two minutes left in the first half.
The Braves made it onto the scoreboard on their next possession, thanks to a wild 72-yard play by running back Trevor Hale, which ended with Hale falling on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Hale had started the run from the Braves’ 28-yard line, but a Grand defender managed to knock the ball from his grasp at the 5-yard line, sending the ball into the end zone. Hale beat Cook to the loose ball, earning a fumble recovery touchdown with 1:21 left before the half.
Grand then fumbled the ball away on its next play from scrimmage, giving the Braves an opportunity to score again before halftime. However, a couple plays later, Grand’s Ronnie Dolphin intercepted a pass, and Grand was able to keep its three-touchdown lead heading into the halftime.
North Summit ended up fumbling the ball four times during the game, losing two, while the Red Devils lost two of their three fumbles. Each team also had one pass intercepted.
“Those miscues were about the only thing that stopped us from moving the ball,” said Grand coach Dennis Wells. “Fortunately, our defense played really well throughout the game, and we managed to stop their running game.
“They did make a couple of big plays on us, but we pretty much stayed in control of the ball for most of the game,” Wells added, noting that the Red Devils refrained from throwing the ball in the second half, thereby keeping the clock running much of the time.
Neither team scored during a see-saw third quarter that featured three turnovers and three punts.
Grand was able to capitalize on a North Summit fumble toward the end of the third quarter, eventually scoring on a five-yard run by Francis in the opening minute of the fourth. That extended the Red Devils’ lead to 34-7, effectively putting the game out of reach.
North Summit managed to advance the ball the length of the field on its next possession, which culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by Josh Birk to make it 34-13 with 7:55 remaining in the contest.
Grand managed to keep the ball in its possession for the remainder of the game as the Red Devils made a few key first downs and managed to run out the rest of the clock.
The Red Devils improved to 10-1 on the season with the victory, which took place on the same field that Grand had suffered a 58-15 blowout loss to Manti in last year’s semifinals. This time around, Grand made sure it wouldn’t have to endure a repeat of last year’s disappointment.
Next up for the Red Devils will be the state 2A championship game, scheduled to be played at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Weber State University in Ogden. Grand will face the 10-1 South Summit Wildcats, who defeated Beaver 14-7 in the other semifinal game at SUU on Saturday afternoon. Grand will be looking to win its second-ever state title, having won its first in 2005. South Summit has a total of four state football titles to its credit, most recently in 1988.
“South Summit is a great team,” Wells said. “But if we stay healthy and focused and execute our game plan, we should be able to compete with them next Saturday.”