HEBER CITY On 14 of Wasatch's last 17 offensive plays in its Region 10 finale against Union, the same player got the ball.
Union, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, knew that Wasatch running back Jake Salazar would be taking the hand-off on almost all of those plays, but there was precious little the Cougars could do to stop him.
With Wasatch nursing a slender lead late in the fourth quarter, Salazar came through time and again. Salazar rushed the ball 40 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Wasps to a 24-21 win over Union Thursday evening.
The victory gives Wasatch its first league title since 2002, as the Wasps finish as co-Region 10 champs with Union.
"He's just a hard-nosed kid," Wasatch coach Steve North said of his star. "He runs hard, runs very hard. And that line stepped it up tonight, and gave him that little edge. He didn't get a lot of long yards, but he just kept chuggin'."
Had Wasatch lost, the Wasps would've fallen into a three-way tie with Judge and Park City for second place in Region 10 and could've fallen all the way to the fourth seed. Instead, Wasatch will represent Region 10 as its No. 1 seed in next week's 3A playoffs by virtue of the head-to-head win over Union.
"We haven't had a region championship in a long time o 2002 o so it was great to get this win," said Salazar. "It was one of our goals at the start of the year, and we just went out and got it."
Wasatch quarterback Taylor Woodruff scored on a one-yard sneak near the end of the third quarter to give the Wasps a 17-7 lead, and it wasn't until that point that Union's heralded offense got going.
Union quarterback Rhen Richard, mainly through quarterback draws, moved his team down the field, and Cougars scored to pull within four points with 10:35 remaining.
That's when Salazar, who had been stellar to that point, really took over.
On a nine-play drive, he rushed the ball for 74 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown scamper, to restore Wasatch's double-digit advantage.
Richard found brother Kaden Richard for a seven-yard touchdown strike with 3:47 remaining to pull within three points at 24-21, but the Cougars failed to recover an onside kick.
From there, the Wasps gave the ball to Salazar o and got a key 18-yard pass reception from tight end Jeffrey Tukuafu o to run out the clock.
North heaped praise on his defense, which utilized zone packages to keep Richard well below his normal passing average of 275 yards."He beat us a little on the run," said North, "but we got him on the pass.
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