WEST VALLEY CITY Ammon Olsen made his mark in the first half. Good thing, because he didn't have the chance to in the second.
Alta's senior quarterback shook off an early interception to complete 12-of-18 passes for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns, all before halftime. His defense held despite spending most of the second half on the field as the Hawks shut out Hunter 21-0 in a non-region primer Friday night.
Olsen's first completion was to the wrong team an interception by Hunter's Rico Montoya on the third play of the game. In a sluggish start in which neither Alta (4-0) or Hunter (1-3) tallied a first down in the first eight minutes, Olsen broke the slump by capping an 11-play, 88-yard drive with a 9-yard shovel pass to Chase Herbert at the end of the first period. He put the Hawks up 14-0 by hitting a wide open Parker Webster on a 20-yard pass with only 22 ticks left in the first half.
"It was hard to get in a rhythm," said Olsen, who attempted only three passes in the second half and completed none. "We calmed down as an offense. (But) we came out pretty intense and uptight."
Alta's offense posted more than 200 yards in the first half, but in the second half Hunter's defense stiffened and its offense horded the ball. The Hawks took only 11 snaps on offense after intermission, but their defense displayed impressive endurance and even managed to pick up the scoring slack.
The Wolverines seemed poised to climb back into the game when they marched 64 yards to Alta's 6-yard line late in the second half. On second-and-goal, however, Hunter quarterback Brett Lunceford was pressured and forced to make a throw into traffic with a defender wrapped around his ankles. Alta's Zack Bigelow intercepted the desperation throw and returned it 97 yards for a score as time expired in the third quarter.
"We came up with some big plays when we needed them on defense," said Alta coach Les Hamilton. "It was a good thing, because we couldn't get into any kind of rhythm in the second half."
Bigelow's interception put Hunter in a seemingly insurmountable hole. The Wolverines put together a few strong possessions, but each was stymied or ended in a turnover. Hunter's power run offense was successful in wearing down Alta, but the Wolverines' difficulty creating big plays and finishing drives made a 21-point deficit too much to overcome with only 12 minutes to play.
Webster had three catches for 51 yards to lead Alta, and Alex Rivas anchored the Hawks' seldom-used running game with 46 yards on eight carries. Mone Moungaloa was the workhorse in Hunter's run-heavy attack, toting the ball 21 times for 76 yards. Lunceford completed only one pass for 3 yards in the first half but was 3-for-7 for 44 yards in the second half.