KEARNS A two-game losing streak seemed bad enough on its own. But the bad news just kept piling up for Skyline.
The Eagles lost their top running back, talented junior Algernon Brown, when he suffered a hyper-extended knee against American Fork last week. Finding another player to step in and fill the shoes of such a key player wasn't an easy task.
Skyline found a workable solution on Friday night, however, by spreading carries among a bunch of players. Six different backs helped the Eagles produce 276 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, allowing them to run away from the Cougars with a 35-7 victory.
Senior Marc Taufa led the backfield with 88 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Fellow senior Caleb Latteier chipped in 75 yards and another pair of touchdowns to help Skyline claim its third win of the season.
"We had a lot of big runs tonight," Latteier said. "Our blocking was great. We did good."
Taufa got things going in a big way when he returned the opening kickoff 57 yards to give the Eagles excellent field position. Skyline started its initial drive inside Kearns territory at the Cougar 42-yard line. Latteier scored his first touchdown seven plays later on a three-yard sweep to give the Eagles a 7-0 advantage.
It was Latteier's second touchdown that offered an omen of how it would be a long night for Kearns. Needing four yards to convert a third down, senior quarterback Kevin Wagstaff pitched it to Latteier, who broke free and raced 58 yards down the sideline to put Skyline up 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Everything clicked about as well as it could on offense, something that couldn't be said in the Eagles' earlier losses to Highland and American Fork.
"That was our main goal to not stop ourselves on offense this week," Latteier said. "We just kept going and we did well on offense."
Skyline did not stop itself on defense, either. After blocking Taylor Whetman's 39-yard field goal attempt on the Cougars' opening drive, the Eagles stopped them from converting fourth downs on three of their next four drives. On the other drive, Skyline forced an 11-yard punt.
The tough defensive effort paid off as the Eagles extended their lead in the third quarter. Taufa made it 21-0 when he found a hole and burst down the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown. Skyline went up 28-0 with 4:45 left when Brian Orr took a punt 62 yards for the score.
Orr's punt return took away what little fight remained in Kearns' team.
"That was the big play of the game," Skyline coach Roger DuPaix said. "It really set us up in good shape."
DuPaix was pleased with how his team bounced back from adversity. He knew they couldn't afford a third consecutive loss with Alta on tap next week.
"We just told them we got to get back on track," DuPaix said. "We've stubbed our toe the last couple of weeks. We're not playing as good as we should be playing. Let's solve that problem and keep going."
E-mail: [email protected]