TAYLORSVILLE Copper Hills bounced back in a big way from last week's tough loss to Pleasant Grove. The Grizzlies got five touchdown passes from quarterback Josh Soter and spoiled Taylorsville's homecoming by routing the Warriors 52-0 Friday night in nonregion play.
"We just came out and played our game," said Soter, who completed 18-26 for 281 yards and added 32 yards and a score on the ground. "We did nothing different."
Copper Hills broke the game open early by taking advantage of situations when Taylorsville didn't. Early in the first quarter, Grizzlies linebacker Mitch Kehl picked off a Jeff Barclay pass and took it down to the Taylorsville 5. After a Copper Hills penalty, Soter hit running back Brian Bell on a screen pass; Bell fumbled at the 3, but he picked it up and took it in for the game's first score.
The Warriors got a couple of good chances by picking off Soter on the Grizzlies' next two possessions, but both times Taylorsville came up empty. The first pick was by Devin Keeling, who energized the Warrior defense early. The second was by Saliva Tapusoa, who took the ball all the way down to the Copper Hills 6-yard line.
The Grizzlies defense stood firm in stuffing two runs by Taylorsville's Nate Azera, and then Barclay's fourth-and-goal pass to Matt Mulholland was incomplete in the end zone.
"Hats off to the defense," said Copper Hills coach Art Erickson. "We're putting the kids in positions to do extremely well."
The Copper Hills offense appeared to be sparked by that defensive stand and proceeded downfield on a nine-play, 92-yard drive, capped by Soter's 10-yard scoring strike to Chandler Allen. Allen had two touchdown catches.
Chandler Johnson hauled in a 40-yard touchdown toss from Soter to make it 20-0 at the half. Johnson tallied five catches for 126 yards and two scores, showing great poise on his second touchdown grab by catching the ball off-balance, righting himself and finding the end zone on the 41-yard pass.
Johnson and Soter also teamed up for the no-way-that-just-happened play of the game. In the third quarter, Copper Hills faced second-and-38 from near midfield. Soter, while being dragged down by two Taylorsville defenders, got off a basketball-style screen pass to Johnson, who took it 23 yards to inside the Warriors' 20. The drive produced no points, but it helped keep Taylorsville pinned in its own territory.
A bright spot for Taylorsville (1-4) was special teams, as the Warriors blocked three Copper Hills extra points and one field goal. Azera, who played a solid game at running back and took many direct snaps, atoned for one kickoff fumble by taking another kick back to his team's 40.
Bell added a late touchdown run, and Juan Pabe finished the scoring with a 6-yard run for the Grizzlies (4-1), who face No. 17 Riverton next week in a key Region 3 matchup.
"We still have some things to clean up," Erickson said. "We just went back to work."