Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Timpview's Jordan Duckett, right, breaks up a pass intended for Cottonwood's Marcus Payne. The T-Birds downed the Colts to advance to the 4A semifinals.

PROVO — If any team is going to keep Timpview from winning back-to-back 4A state football championships, it first better find a way to beat the Thunderbirds in the trenches.

So far this season, no team has done it. On Friday, the Cottonwood Colts, considered by most to be as big and as physical as any team in the state, were the latest to be manhandled by Timpview's powerful front line. In a 31-13 quarterfinal win, the T-Birds forced the Colts — a team that averages almost 40 points per game — into two turnovers and to punt seven times. Timpview amassed more than 460 yards of total offense to only 240 by Cottonwood. The Colts also managed only nine first downs.

"I think our guys up front definitely deserve a lot of the credit tonight," Timpview coach Louis Wong said.

The most telling statistic came in the rushing department. Timpview ran off 250 yards on the ground, while the Colts managed a measly 15 rushing yards. Timpview's game plan was to force Cottonwood to throw, and that's exactly what happened. When the Colts couldn't get anything going running the ball, they turned to short passes to gain most of their yards.

"The guy I was worried about was their running back, and we shut him down," Wong said.

On the offensive side, Timpview went at the Colts with a variety of weapons. Quinn Mecham completed 11 of 18 passes for 210 yards, with Mark Ercanbrack catching six passes for 107 yards. Running backs Jerome Patterson (93 yards), Levi Te'o (81 yards) and Michael Alisa (43 yards) kept the Colts' defense honest with a steady diet of 5- and 6-yard carries.

"It comes back to preparation, and coach (Chad Van Orden) did a great job of preparing that offense. It's all his," Wong said.

Cottonwood almost took an early lead when its second drive reached Timpview's 6-yard line. But a sack forced the Colts to try a 35-yard field goal, which missed wide. Six plays later, Timpview scored first on a 2-yard plunge by Te'o. The 80-yard drive was keyed by 20-yard-plus runs each from Te'o and Patterson.

The T-Birds had to go 95 yards on their next drive. A Cottonwood punt pinned Timpview on its 5-yard line, but a big gain by Patterson and a strange illegal defensive blocking call on the Colts moved the ball out to the 37. Two plays later Mecham dumped a screen pass off to Patterson at midfield and he zig-zagged his way 50 yards to the end zone — giving Timpview a 14-0 halftime lead.

The momentum briefly shifted Cottonwood's way in the opening minute of the second half. Mecham, scrambling out of the pocket, fumbled the ball away to the Colts on the first play of the third quarter. Four plays later, Isi Sofele pounded it in from two yards out to cut the score to 14-7.

But that Cottonwood momentum was short-lived. Two plays later Mecham spotted Ercanbrack wide open deep behind defenders and hit him for a 72-yard TD pass — quickly putting Timpview back ahead by two touchdowns. A 32-yard field goal by Cameron Shumway on the first play of the fourth quarter stretched Timpview's lead to 24-7.

One play after Shumway's field goal, the Colts took their turn going deep — with Steve Romero passing to Marcus Payne perfectly in stride for an 80-yard TD strike. But the Colts never really threatened to score again, and Timpview put the game away late in the fourth when Alisa rambled in from 17 yards on a screen pass.

"We're living to play another day, so we're quite happy," Wong said.

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