At first glance, the Granger Lancer roster has a lot of big numbers on it, numbers like 270, 290 and 300. Numbers that a smaller school like Morgan can only dream of most years.
So when the Lancers rolled into Morgan on Friday night, it looked, at least on paper, like Granger should be able to handle the Trojans' outsized line and come away with a win.
But that's why they play the games.
Morgan, despite having only one player on the entire roster over 250 pounds, controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball virtually the entire evening, holding the Lancers to just 30 yards rushing on 25 attempts to walk away with a convincing 42-18 win.
The Trojans rushed for 303 yards, led by Kade Carrigan with 108 punishing yards and two touchdowns. Matt Murdock added 60 yards and a score as well.
"We thought we'd have to try to wear them out side to side," said Morgan coach Kovi Christiansen, "but we actually had some success early in the middle."
Morgan seized control right from the opening kickoff, as the Trojans ran a reverse and returned the ball 54 yards to the Granger 31. Although the Trojan drive moved the ball only 5 yards before turning it over on downs, the defense rose to the occasion, forcing a three-and-out. After a short Granger punt, Morgan marched down the field on a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Jake Peterson. A fake PAT led to a pass from Tyler Kelsey to Murdock for the two-point conversion, and Morgan was out to a quick 8-0 lead.
Granger's next drive lasted only one play, as Zack Ashman's pass was intercepted by the Trojans' Mitch Wamsley, and returned to the Lancers' 29-yard line. Two Ben Saunders passes later, Morgan found paydirt again as Murdock hauled in a 3-yard touchdown toss. After the PAT, the score stood at 15-0. Saunders finished the game completing 4 of 11 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
The two teams traded punts and turnovers until late in the second quarter, when some serious fireworks started. First, Moana Finau took a screen pass from Ashman around the left side of the line for a 15-yard touchdown to get the Lancers on the board at 15-6. On the kickoff, Wamsley fielded the ball at the 24-yard line, found a wall to the left and danced down the sideline 76 yards for a score. Morgan led 22-6 with 3:26 left in the half.
Granger wouldn't give up, however, as Ashman quickly moved his team down the field and hit Suli Tukumoeatu on a sideline route. The Morgan defender gambled and went for the pick instead of the tackle, enabling Tukumoeatu to race untouched 51 yards to the end zone.
It looked like lightning was going to strike twice for Morgan as Carrigan fielded the ensuing kickoff, faked the reverse and scooted down the right sideline for what appeared to be a second consecutive return touchdown. The play was called back on a penalty, however, and Morgan simply ran out the clock to end the half leading 22-12.
Granger took advantage of a turnover by Morgan early in the second half to score on a touchdown run by Finau, drawing within four at 22-18. The Trojans, however, dominated the rest of the half with a tough rushing attack highlighted by touchdown runs from Carrigan, Murdock and Peterson in the second half.
"I'm really proud of our line tonight," Christiansen said. "They kind of grew up tonight. Coach Crossley does a great job of coaching them up and getting them ready."
Granger faces Bingham next Thursday night, while Morgan opens region play at Emery on Friday evening.
Chris is a graduate of the University of Utah and Santa Clara Law School and practices law in Heber, is a father of four, an avid fly-fisherman, and announcer of many Morgan High School sports events. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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