CEDAR CITY — South Summit rode stingy defense and three turnovers to a 14-7 semifinal victory over a resilient Beaver team as the Wildcats battled nine penalties and 144 Beaver rushing yards to a hard-fought win, setting up a championship game next weekend with Grand.
Beaver opened the game forcing a fourth-down stop, a punt and an interception defensively but failed to cash in on a fourth down at the Wildcats' 3-yard line before South Summit drove 63 yards on a 13-play, six-minute drive that resulted in a Ty Jones nine-yard touchdown with 3:41 remaining in the first half to open the scoring for the Wildcats.
A Beaver punt set up a six-play 39-yard drive culminating in a Jones to Jordan McNair 21-yard strike to go up 14-0 entering the half.
South Summit dominated the first half with 33 plays for 175 yards, compared to Beaver's 22 plays and 82 total yards. Colby Averett rushed nine times for 38 yards, while Jones rushed for 45 yards on nine carries.
The second half was all but a 180-degree turnaround as the Beavers outgained the Wildcats 206 to 73, but a fumble and an interception halted two Beaver drives.
"We just stayed with it defensively and tried to hang on to good field position," said South Summit head coach Jerry Parker. "Beaver was an exceptional team tonight, the pass in the second half hurt us, but our team is very team oriented and just wanted it today."
Beaver opened the second half by going 80 yards in nine plays as Kasen Hutchings hit Michael Roberts for a 22-yard touchdown pass that gave the Beavers the momentum they needed to start the second half.
The Wildcats punted their first possession but didn't give up as junior Santos Bracken intercepted a Roberts halfback pass in the third quarter.
South Summit followed that with a 13-play 63-yard drive that ended with a missed field goal attempt, setting up Beaver in the fourth quarter to make a comeback.
The ensuing drive for Beaver ended as Brantson Blackburn fumbled after a 20-yard reception that was recovered by McNair with 7:55 remaining in the game.
Two straight penalties by the Wildcats' offense put them into a third-and-33 situation, which they couldn't pick up. The fourth-down punt only went 28 yards, giving Beaver the ball at the Wildcat 40-yard line with 5:42 remaining.
Beaver opened up the passing game but failed to convert on a fourth and 18, giving the Wildcats the ball back with 3:12 remaining, needing only one first down to run out the clock. The first down didn't come, and Beaver got the ball back with 2:02 remaining and 59 yards to go for a tie.
Hutchings completed 22-yard and 14-yard passes to Roberts and Blackburn, respectively. With second and 15 from the Wildcats' 31, Hutchings found Blackburn again for an 18-yard gain, setting up a Beavers' first down at the 13-yard line and 58 seconds remaing.
Three straight incompletions set up a fourth-down pass that was knocked away by South Summit senior Carson Freestone.
Hutchings finished the game 11-23 for 144 yards, while Jesse McMullin was limited to 79 yards on 20 carries. South Summitt finished with 207 yards rushing.
Jerad Ciarus graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications from Southern Utah University.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company