Mountain Crest ended the first half of Thursday night's 4A semifinal by forcing a pair of turnovers to kill Timpview drives and scored its second touchdown of the game. It mirrored perfectly the fate that befell the Mustangs to open the second half.
Timpview forced fumbles on consecutive Mountain Crest third-quarter possessions and produced interceptions on three consecutive drives in the fourth quarter to claim a 38-21 victory over the Mustangs at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Overall, the T-Birds scored all 17 second-half points off those turnovers and left Mountain Crest wondering what might have transpired if it had found a way to hang onto the football.
"They did what they had to do," Mustangs coach Mark Wootton said. "Their scheme was set up in a way that it really made it difficult to get anything done."
Mountain Crest also suffered from a penchant for letting Timpview produce big plays. The T-Birds burned a combined 57 seconds off the clock on its first two scoring drives and seemed able to do whatever it wanted against the Mustang defense at times.
Still, Mountain Crest appeared to have recaptured momentum going into halftime with some big defensive plays. The Mustangs cashed in on a Timpview fumble with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Alex Kuresa to Tyler Weese that cut the T-Bird lead to 21-14. Taylor Root had another big takeaway when he picked off a pass in the end zone on the final play of the half.
But that's where the good times ended for Mountain Crest. Kuresa fumbled the ball after getting sacked on the Mustangs' initial third-quarter drive. Peter Quitiero jumped on the ball and set up a 37-yard touchdown run by Brown to give Timpview a 28-14 advantage.
Mountain Crest pulled back to within 31-21 on Kuresa's third touchdown pass — a 4-yard toss to Weese — before the quarter ended. That was as close as the Mustangs got. Each of their final three drives ended with an interception — two coming from Kuresa and one from Alex Knowles on a halfback pass attempt.
All of the turnovers undermined an otherwise solid outing for Kuresa, who completed 27 of 42 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns. Wootton felt like the junior quarterback's supporting cast did not take enough pressure off him when it became necessary.
"We didn't give him any time tonight," Wootton said. "He was kind of a one-man show."
It turned out to be a much different story for Timpview. Aside from the pair of first-half turnovers, the T-Bird offense moved downfield with machine-like precision. Timpview did not punt for the first time until the opening play of the fourth quarter and scored on five of its first seven drives.
"We converted on almost all of our offensive possessions," T-Birds quarterback Trevor Brown said. "That's what we wanted to do tonight. We wanted to come out and score every time we could because we knew our defense was going to have their work cut out for them."