MAGNA After a Kearns running back was ejected for his involvement in a bench-clearing brawl in the second quarter against Cyprus on Friday, Toa Afatasi stepped it up.
The Kearns' player rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries to lead the Cougars to a 20-0 win over the Pirates.
"We're not a very deep team," said Kearns offensive coordinator Justin Spencer. "But Afatasi picked up the load."
The Cougars moved up and down the field and controlled the clock for much of the game. However, Kearns failed to score on several opportunities.
On the game's opening drive, the Cougars marched 50 yards on nine plays and milked the game clock down to 5:57 only to see Taylor Whetman miss a 40-yard field goal attempt wide to the left.
Kearns did manage to take advantage on its next possession as it went 84 yards in four plays, including a 38-yard run by Alamoti Vaenuku and a 36-yard touchdown pass from J.R. Finai to Fatu Moala for a 7-0 lead with 11:52 to play in the second.
The Cougars went up 14-0 just two minutes later as Dennis Phaophongsavath picked off a Chris Peel pass and took it 30 yards for a touchdown.
The brawl came on the next Cyprus possession. Pirates running back Jordan Pulou threw an interception to Dominic Cagle at the Cyprus 30. Flags flew from every official and three players were ejected, including Vaenuku, Inoke Felila and Cyprus' George Thomas.
In addition, Kearns head coach Bill Cosper reportedly suffered a headache in the moments following the fight and was taken to the hospital before halftime.
Kearns blew its chance to score on its ensuing possession as Afatasi fumbled the ball to Ronald Gamer at the Cyprus 8-yard line with just under three minutes to play.
The Cougars got the ball back once more with 1:12 to play in the half, but backup quarterback Tyson Adamson threw an interception to Tyrel Hardman with 45 seconds left.
The game's final score came on a 17-yard run by Sione Angilau with 5:32 to play. His run capped a 12-play, 76-yard drive that chewed up nearly eight minutes of game clock.
"This win really shows the character of this team," Spencer said. "At halftime, we told them we needed to accomplish our goal, which was to wear them out on offense and on defense and I think we did that."