SPANISH FORK – On paper it looked like Friday night's game against Uintah might provide an early region challenge for the Spanish Fork football team.
The teams came into the game with identical records, and Uintah was showing some signs of dangerous improvement. But the Dons were all business from the first snap and rolled to a comfortable 41-3 win.
After a nice return on the opening kickoff, Spanish Fork's PJ Inoke took a handoff on the first play of the game and promptly broke past the defense for a 57-yard touchdown run. That was the only kick-start the Dons needed, and they never relinquished the momentum from that early touchdown.
By halftime Spanish Fork led by four touchdowns and was able to simply run the last two quarters off the clock and win the Region 8 opener.
"We wanted to establish the run game and I thought we ran the ball pretty effectively at times," said Dons coach Matt Christensen. "We try to be as balanced as we can."
In the second quarter, Hayden Nielsen put Spanish Fork up 14-0 on a well-timed fly pass to Luigy Paulino. A few minutes later it was 21-0 when Christian Taele took a lateral pass and zig-zagged across the field for a 27-yard touchdown run.
Spanish Fork recovered a fumble on the kickoff moments later and tacked on the final score of the half on a nine-yard run by Taele.
Uintah will look back on some opportunities it had to stay in the game during the first two quarters. Despite giving up a score on the first play, the Utes were still only trailing 7-0 after the first period and had some chances to put points on the board, but came up empty.
A failed fourth-down conversion and two missed field goals deep in Spanish Fork territory snuffed out some promising early drives and kept Uintah from staying in the game once the Dons started putting more points on the board.
"They threatened a few times," said Christensen. "They made a lot of plays on film. They have some good athletes. We had a few penalties that really got us out of rhythm. Keeping them out of the end zone was good."
Uintah finally capitalized on a drive and got on the scoreboard early in the third quarter. Tanner Seitz knocked through a 29-yard field goal to avoid the shutout.
The Dons answered when Inoke broke through the line again and outran the defense for a 33-yard TD run. The senior tailback added the final score in the fourth quarter on a nine-yard plunge.
Inoke dominated the stat line with 175 yards on 11 carries.
"Every time I got the ball I went back to the linemen and said thank you," said Inoke. "That was everybody doing their job and blocking."