LOGAN Mountain Crest couldn't get much going on offense against Highland.
Fortunately for the Mustangs, the defense was there to save the day.
Mountain Crest scored all of its points off six turnovers to beat the Rams 26-21 in the season opener for both teams Saturday afternoon at Utah State's Romney Stadium.
"We don't have a chance if we don't get those turnovers," Mustangs head coach Mark Wootton said. "The thing I was excited about was just the effort our kids gave. You look at Highland and they're so big and physical, and we were so outmanned sizewise, but these Mountain Crest kids, they don't ever back down."
The Rams had 305 yards of total offense twice as much as the Mustangs but three interceptions and three fumbles lost were too much to overcome.
"When we were driving on them, when we were being mistake-free, I thought we were moving the ball well, I thought we controlled the ball well," Highland head coach Brody Benson said. "I thought that it boiled down to (Mountain Crest) causing them or us giving them away, the turnovers. You can't win doing that."
Despite all the turnovers, the Rams still had a chance to pull out the victory in the waning moments.
A 15-yard penalty on the Mustangs' bench (third sideline warning) gave Highland a first down on Mountain Crest's 36-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
After Rams quarterback Nick Orchard was sacked by Raider Lofthouse on first down, Orchard had a pass attempt broken up by Chandler Smith inside the 5-yard line on the next play.
"I was a little nervous on that," Mountain Crest's Ethan Rasmussen said. "I thought he was gonna catch it maybe because he was behind everyone. But that was a good play by Chan."
Then on third-and-14, Mitch Jessop intercepted a pass by Orchard to secure the Mustangs' victory.
"There's no way we would have ever won if we hadn't gotten those turnovers," Jessop said. "I mean, our coaches have always said we need to force at least two turnovers a game and we gotta have one for a touchdown, so that was huge."
Mountain Crest did get one for a touchdown when Rasmussen snagged a pass intended for Highland's Nate Fakahafua and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead with 7:30 left in the first quarter.
"We've been watching film," Rasmussen said. "I just read it and took it to the house."
Mountain Crest made it 14-0 several minutes later when Alex Knowles hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Alex Kuresa, who was 13-of-17 for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
The Rams sliced the deficit in half, though, when Travis Walzer returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. Highland tied it at 14-all on a 7-yard touchdown run by Muli Kinikini with 7:48 to go in the second.
Jessop hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kuresa just before halftime to give Mountain Crest a 20-14 lead.
Kinikini led the Rams with 121 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.