Execution is what gets you past these first (playoff) games. —Skyridge coach Jon Lehman
LEHI — The Skyridge Falcons were trying to build a legacy similar to their 5A football playoff opponent Friday afternoon and took a big step forward against the Skyline Eagles.
Alex Palmer rushed for 158 yards on just six carries and the Falcons did just about everything right as the second-year school steamrolled past Skyline 55-0 to earn its first playoff victory.
Skyridge led 7-0 after just two offensive plays and 28-0 by the end of the first quarter. Quarterback Jayden Clemons had two touchdown passes and ran for another by halftime. Garrett Rusick tipped away a sure Skyline score on defense and then caught an 81-yard touchdown throw from Clemons a couple of plays later for a 35-0 lead. Palmer likely set a Skyridge school record with a 90-yard run, and Caden Cole put the finishing touch on the rout with a 48-yard fumble return.
“It was really fun,” said Skyridge coach Jon Lehman after his team improved to 10-1 on the season. Around him, Skyridge players celebrated after losing a play-in game in the school’s first season last year.
“Execution is what gets you past these first (playoff) games,” Lehman added. “Last year’s (play-in) game was good experience and we really built on it. The kids got a taste of the postseason and were really motivated to stay in it.”
Skyridge will get another taste of playoff football next Friday at 4 p.m. at home against Jordan, with the winner advancing to a Rice-Eccles Stadium semifinal the following week. Skyline, the No. 3 seed from Region 6, finished with a 6-4 record.
Skyline coach Zac Erekson said it was a successful year, but the Eagles finished on a sour note with consecutive Utah County losses to Lehi and then Skyridge.
“This program isn’t used to first-round exits,” he said. “We’re trying to restore our legacy. We’ve seen some signs of it, but we need consistency.”
Skyline was clearly outmanned. After averaging nearly 40 points per game during the regular season, the Eagles’ offense netted zero net yards in its first three possessions, and the defense wasn’t any better. Skyline’s biggest highlights came when Chris Dudley’s sack of Clemons on a fourth-down play stopped one Skyridge possession and the Eagles opened the second half by recovering an on-sides kick.
The second half was consumed quickly due to the UHSAA’s “Mercy Rule,” which involved a running clock. Lehman tried to use his entire roster and Skyridge appeared to escape injury-free. Payton Ainsworth ended up the team’s top rusher with 162 yards on 15 carries as Palmer spent much of the game on the bench nursing a broken wrist that occurred in practice. Clemons completed 6 of 8 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns before retiring after the third quarter. He was replaced by Jack Miskin, who made the highlight reel with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Josh Anderegg.
Skyline quarterback Tommy McGrath provided most of his team’s offense with 272 passing yards, but was intercepted twice. The Eagles had just 44 yards on the ground.
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high school sports articles for the Deseret News.