My coach challenged me this game to break the rushing record at the school, which is 208 (yards). —Northridge RB Davy Adams
LAYTON — There are certain racehorses who are great at running on a wet track, where the mud and muck doesn't seem slow 'em down one bit.
In racing parlance, they're called a great mudder.
Well, Davy Adams must be a great mudder.
After Northridge High officials spent hours doing their best to clear the football field of the wet, heavy snow that blanketed Northern Utah on Thursday morning, Adams went out and chewed up big chunks of muddy, mucky yardage all night long to lead the Knights to a 42-25 victory over Granger in Friday's first-round of the 5A state playoffs.
Adams, a short, shifty and strong senior running back, was the Knights' workhorse with 31 carries good for 169 yards and four touchdowns. He had scoring bursts of 8, 15, 3 and 42 yards against the Lancers to help propel Northridge (9-2) into next week's 5A quarterfinals against top-ranked Jordan.
"The first half was a lot worse than the second half," he said of the gooey field conditions. "Maybe the field absorbed the water or something like that, or maybe I just got used to it. It was slippery the first half, I felt, and I couldn't cut at all.
"My coach challenged me this game to break the rushing record at the school, which is 208 (yards). We saw their run defense and we thought we could go do that. I ran hard tonight.
"I've been beat up, man," said Adams, who sat out last week's non-league loss to Mountain Crest so he could heal up from ankle and knee injuries which have been bothering him. "I'm getting lots of touches and that's beat me up. So we got a good week off and I got healthy, and I came out playing how I used to play before I was hurt. I was happy I took that week off. It felt good."
Northridge coach Erik Thompson said that relying on Adams' running ability was a big part of the Knights' game plan.
"He's a little dynamo," the Knights' coach said of Adams, who has now scored 23 rushing touchdowns this season and 27 in all. "That was the plan coming in. We knew it would be probably a sloppy field, and we felt we could give him the ball 30 times and get out of here with a win and move on."
Adams certainly wasn't the Knights' only weapon on this night. Nate Kusuda completed 12-of-18 passes for 207 yards and the first Northridge touchdown, an 18-yard toss to sure-handed Jace Colby, who had three catches in all for 77 yards. Zach Hayes, who also sat out last week's game, had seven receptions for 113 yards, and Dallin Isaacson added 53 yards rushing on 10 carries, including a 4-yard TD run.
Granger (7-4) showed plenty of grit and determination and simply would not go away despite trailing after the first four minutes of the game. Tani Lehauli had an 82-yard scoring run in which he broke several tackles along the way, and his interception and subsequent 62-yard return set up another Granger score.
Robbie Elkins went 74 yards for a TD on a pass from Jairo Tarver in the fourth quarter, and James Elkins and Mone Latu each had short scoring runs for the Lancers, who had two PAT kicks blocked and were stopped short on a two-point conversion try.
In all, Coach Thompson was proud of his own team's gritty performance.
"A win's a win," he said. "We're happy we're moving on to the next round. Granger's a dangerous team and, on a night like tonight, we know with the snow and a muddy field, there's the possibility of turnovers and maybe it's a little tougher throwing the ball, and they have two really good running backs. So I'm really happy that we got the win and we were able to run the ball as well as we did tonight.
"We kind of held (Granger) down but they did a good job of breaking tackles and making big plays, so credit to those kids. No. 8 (Lehauli) has been doing that all year and so has (James Elkins)."
The Knights were missing star linebacker Eliyah Mayberry, who suffered three broken ribs in last week's loss but, with the aid of a flak-jacket, is determined to return in time for next week's quarterfinal clash. "Eliyah's a game-changer for us as far as tackles for loss and sacks and making a difference over there on defense, but I was really proud of the guys that stepped in," Thompson said.. "I have four offensive linemen that start both ways -- you find me another school in the state that does that, not even in 1A. "So I've got kids out there that are outweighed by 50 pounds playing both ways, never coming off the field, and we'll take what we get with that. I'll take the win and their effort and we're happy to move on."