ROY — It was "Jim McMahon Night" on Friday evening at Roy High School, and his alma mater sure could've used some of that old McMahon magic in their Region 5 opener against Box Elder.
With a huge, partisan-Roy crowd in attendance at Ernest Durbano Field, the Bees used an outstanding defensive performance to sting the Royals 17-0, spoiling a rousing halftime tribute to the former Roy High quarterback whose jersey No. 9 was retired to signal his enshrinement in the Royal Athletic Hall of Honor. Box Elder feasted on six Roy turnovers, five of them coming in the second half, and all of the Bees' points came about by their ability to capitalize on the Royals' miscues.
"Our defensive coaches did an awesome job of putting a plan together, and the kids just played their butts off on defense," Box Elder coach Robbie Gunter said. "We tried to feed off all the (McMahon) hoopla a little bit. That was great energy and a real good crowd. "Our special teams played sound, our defense played sound and our offense, well, they didn't do great, but Roy did a great job of putting players in the right spots and kicking our butts. My hat's off to them. That's a good football team. Defensively they did a very good job.
"Our kids played hard. We love 'em," coach Gunter said after his team bounced back from last week's overtime loss to improve to 4-1 overall. "This is the biggest game of the year for us. One at a time — next week I'll probably say different — but one at a time in this region. It is just tougher than nails."
Box Elder's first touchdown came about after Roy fumbled away the football at its own 20-yard line on its first offensive possession. Five plays later, Bees quarterback Britton Gunter lit the scoreboard on a 1-yard run, then threw a two-point conversion pass to Shad Watson to make it 8-0.
That score stood until halftime, when a grateful McMahon graciously thanked those who helped him on his way to achieving stardom at BYU, where he set 70 NCAA records in a stellar collegiate career, and in the NFL, where he helped lead the Chicago Bears to the 1985 Super Bowl championship. The ceremony featured a short speech by his college coach, BYU's legendary LaVell Edwards, and a lengthy fireworks display.
Then the Royals promptly fumbled the second-half kickoff at their own 12-yard line, setting the stage for a 32-yard field goal by Box Elder's Trevor Cobbley that made it 11-0.
Moments later, Bees sophomore linebacker Breckin Gunter swiped the ball away from an unsuspecting Roy running back and scampered 42 yards the other way for a score that boosted the Bees' lead to 17-0.
"I just read it right and the defensive line just blocked like they were doing their job so they let me flow," Breckin Gunter said. "I was reading the running back and he was running the ball loose, so I just took it. ... I think that's my first defensive touchdown."
"Our defense works on that stuff every day," his proud coach/dad Robbie Gunter said. "Our coaches just do such a great job of getting the kids ready to play football. And we drill that and drill that and drill that, and when it happens on the field, you're like 'Man, that feels good.' "
Roy's defense did a splendid job of its own, getting big plays from Marcus Matuatia, Braxton Patton, Jake Trujillo and Jordan Beyer. But it wasn't enough to prevent the Royals from falling to 3-2 overall, as Roy receiver Breckott Chapmar was ruled out of bounds on a would-be touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and the Bees' opportunistic defense took advantage of Roy's ill-timed turnovers to nail down the shutout.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company