WOODS CROSS Rich High has hung its football hat on a suffocating defense throughout the season.
Entering its semifinal showdown against Enterprise, the Rebels' defense had allowed just 16 points in its previous five games and had racked up three shutouts along the way.
With a chance to play against top-ranked Kanab in next week's state championship game, Rich's defense showed why it's so good.
Spurred on by a tremendous performance from its defensive line composed of tackles Kade Bell and Josh O'Halloran and ends Kris Argyle and Caden Andersen No. 2 Rich held Enterprise's offense to negative yardage in the first half, forced two turnovers and came up with seven sacks. Going the other way, running back Tyler Satterthwaite rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown, and the end product was a convincing 20-7 win over Enterprise Saturday afternoon at Woods Cross High.
"I don't think many people thought we was going to make it this far, and we've just worked hard at practice," said defensive tackle Kade Bell. "We knew we could do it, (and) we just got it done."
Rich and Kanab will meet at 11 a.m. next Saturday at Southern Utah University.
Saturday's semifinal encounter turned on three huge plays in the third quarter.
First, Rich quarterback Bradley Holmes found Jade Cornia in stride for a 69-yard touchdown reception on the second offensive play of the half to put the Rebels up 13-0.
Having held Enterprise to negative yardage to that point, things looked awfully good for Rich. However, Enterprise QB Slade Moyle calmly led his team down the field, and running back Chance Phelps capped a six-play, 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to pull Enterprise to within six points with 7:23 left in the third quarter.
Rich was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, and Enterprise netted an 8-yard gain on the first play of its next drive.
That's when Rich's defense swung back into action. Holmes, who plays free safety on defense, intercepted a wayward pass on the next play, and the Rebels didn't give up another first down the rest of the way.
"It changed the momentum of the game, there's no question," said Rich coach Ashley Brown. "He did a great job of reading the quarterback and broke on the ball well."
From there, the sack party was on.
After notching three sacks during the first half, the Rebels came up with four more in the fourth quarter.
Bell helped on four of the seven, and his fellow D-linemen all got in on the action."It was great," Bell said of sacks. "It just felt so good when somebody got (a sack) clear back behind the line. It was fun."