This was a good win against a good team and will help us move forward. —Kearns coach Matt Rickards
HOLLADAY — Kearns remained perfect Friday with a 35-21 victory on the road against Olympus. The Cougars’ 21 unanswered points in the second half capped off a night that featured a seesaw battle over the first two quarters of play, and Olympus led 21-14 at halftime.
“I’m really proud of the way we played for most of the game, but we made some dumb, dumb mistakes — good-meaning mistakes, including one that ended up being a touchdown. We need to learn from those mistakes,” said Kearns coach Matt Rickards. “This was a good win against a good team and will help us move forward.”
Rickards’ team caught some breaks on the night, including an improvised handoff from running back Sese Felila to quarterback Isaac Matua. With the game tied at 21-21, Felila prevented a cluster of Titans from bringing him down by handing the ball to Matua. Matua then rolled around the cluster and scored the go-ahead touchdown to put Kearns up 28-21 in the fourth quarter.
The tandem of Matua and Felila is as talented as any in the state, with the duo scoring a pair of touchdowns apiece in the win. Kearns’ offensive line also played well, creating holes where Felila appeared out of nowhere, and then the running back did the rest with his speed and strength.
“In my opinion he’s one of the best running backs in the state,” said Rickards. “Pound for pound he’s one of the strongest players, and he’s one of our hardest workers — it runs in his family.
“The two of them work well together — sometimes I don’t even know who has the ball,” said Rickards.
The duo kept Olympus on its toes all night, while Kearns’ defense did what it had to do to keep the ball in its offense's hands most of the night.
“I thought our defense made some big plays and did a good job for us tonight,” said Rickards.
The Cougars forced three interceptions, including one that was returned 85 yards by Mehki Hammock in the third quarter.
But although Hammock’s score knotted the game at 21-21, it may not have been the biggest defensive play of the outing. That came on a fourth and one by the Cougars, which was sandwiched between Kearns’ final two touchdowns. It was key because with Kearns up 28-21, the Cougars were able to thwart an Olympus response to the score.
The offense made good on the defensive effort, as Felila burst through from 10 yards out with 5:28 left to play for the final touchdown in the game. Kearns closed out the game by snagging its third interception, forcing a fumble and slowing down its rapid pace to run out the clock.
“Kearns made the plays tonight,” said Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead. “We need to keep playing these great opponents, but losing two in a row is tough to swallow.
“This one is on me, I’ll take the heat. We are going to work on preparation because we’ve got great kids and a great team.”
Felila finished the night around the 250-yard mark.