SALT LAKE CITY — Judge knew all about Manti’s prolific runner, Kamren Fowles. The hiccup-quick tailback had rushed for 545 yards and eight touchdowns in his team's previous two games leading up to the nonregion bout Wednesday.
Unwilling to let him work freely, the Bulldogs barricaded their defense in the interior gaps, and challenged the Templars to strike with another weapon. The strategy paid dividends as Judge extended its winning streak to seven straight with a 49-20 win.
“He’s a tough vertical runner and we tried to constrict the running lanes,” Judge coach James Cordova said after his team held Fowles to 59 yards on eight attempts. “We wanted to make them beat us with somebody else.”
Despite its lack of influence in postseason seeding, Judge quarterback Kaden Elliss believes the win provided momentum his squad needed as it heads into a game against Morgan next week, which will determine the outright region champion.
Manti had won five straight, with its lone loss occurring in overtime back in Week 3.
“That’s one of the best teams in 3A. So, that shows to us and to the other good teams that we can play. I think more so to us, personally. We’ve got Morgan coming up, who we lost to 35-0 last year,” said Elliss, who finished with 198 total yards and four touchdowns.
“We’ve put (Morgan) up on a pedestal and we’ve been waiting for this game. We made it our senior night. We want this game,” Elliss continued. “We remember how they destroyed us. I want to come out with my full team and bulldoze through them. I want to win 35-0. I don’t want it to be a close game; I want to blow them out like they did us last year.”
Judge accounted for 323 yards and six scores on 64 carries from seven different contributors. Elliss led the way with 100 yards and three scores, while Henry Garcia added 94 yards and two touchdowns.
On the third play from scrimmage Wednesday, Manti mishandled the exchange from center and Judge's Mark Barnett recovered at the 1-yard line. The ensuing play, Barnett punched it in on a toss sweep for a 7-0 lead.
The Templars pulled even at 8:19 in the first after quarterback Connor Aste found daylight on runs of 13 and 20 yards with the defense susceptible to the bootleg before Fowles scurried in from 10 yards out.
The two teams exchanged scores before Elliss pieced together a nine-play, 80-yard drive, which he cherry-topped with a 5-yard scamper around the edge for a 21-14 lead with 48 seconds left before the break.
“It looks a lot more lopsided than this game really is,” Cordova said. “They were forced into some bad situations. That touchdown right before half was big. It gave us an opportunity to come out with the ball back. That was huge.”
Apart from a 45-yard fake punt that positioned the Templars for a tying touchdown in the second quarter, Judge limited them to 225 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers — two interceptions and two fumbles.
The Bulldogs reeled off 21 straight points to begin the second half after Manti’s first three drives produced 7 yards and two turnovers.
“We’re a second-half team, which isn’t always a good thing,” Elliss said. “It worked for us and it’s worked for seven of our games so far. We need to come out not cocky, but confident. We need to have the swagger about ourselves.”
Judge quarterback Kaden Elliss
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