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SALT LAKE CITY — All year it's been the Lone Peak offense, particularly star quarterback Chase Hansen, that has received most of the Knight hype. During the biggest game of the year, however, it was the defense that showed up big, taking the 5A state championship with a 41-21 win over Fremont.
Sure, Hansen and the offense were phenomenal yet again, accounting for 403 yards at halftime, including 398 total yards by Hansen alone, but it was the defense that was dominant throughout.
With the offense slowing down a bit in the second half, the defense stepped up, stopping every Fremont scoring threat.
Turnovers played a huge role, with Lone Peak accounting for five takeaways.
Although they allowed 309 total yards to Fremont, a lot of those yards came late in the game with many of the Knight defensive standouts on the bench.
Fremont's final touchdown came with the game well in hand, with the other touchdown coming on special teams via a 98-yard kickoff return by Jordan Preator.
So how good was the defense?
"Our defense won the game for us," Hansen said.
Lone Peak was dubbed a team full of playmakers prior to the 5A championship game. The defense did its best against Fremont to show those playmakers aren't just on the offensive side of the football.
"We had guys all over making plays during big moments," said linebacker Josh Buck. "We stepped it up and we were awesome. Everyone rotated in effectively and it was a great performance by everyone."
Buck stepped up with a key interception in the second half when Fremont was threatening to score, which was just one of four interceptions made during the half. Linebacker Spencer Reinstein followed up Buck's interception, halting Fremont as it was approaching midfield, but it was Brody Benson's pick with 9:40 left in the game and Lone Peak up 35-13 that all but sealed the win.
"We knew that this was our last chance to step up and we did that," said defensive captain Justin Simpson. "I think we had our best game of the year and I think that when you have the heart to do it you just get it done. Our defense has so much heart and we played with so much heart tonight. It's just unreal."
It was fitting the final play of the game resulted in yet another Lone Peak takeaway. This time it was Talon Shumway's turn, as he jumped up to snatch away a desperation pass as the final second ticked off the clock, sending the Lone Peak players, coaches and crowd into a much-deserved frenzy.
"Our defense stepped up like we've been waiting for them to do all year," said coach Tony McGeary. "We had a good defensive stand against Northridge when our offense wasn't in sync, but I can honestly say tonight that we had the offense and the defense in sync tonight and it was just unbelievable."
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