OGDEN — Duchesne’s efficiency and awareness on fourth down in Friday’s 1A semifinal at Weber State can’t be overstated. It’s what ultimately separated the Eagles from Parowan in the 27-14 victory.
Duchesne converted 5 of 6 fourth downs against Parowan, including a pair of fourth-down conversions on two different touchdown drives.
“Especially in 1A football, your special teams you can never really count on it,” said Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan. “If it’s fourth and short, maybe you go for it.”
Two of the fourth-down conversions were the result of hard counts from Duchesne quarterback Jarett Spencer which drew Parowan offside. Two others came through the air, including the dagger with 6:03 remaining in the game.
With Duchesne facing a fourth-and-6 at Parowan’s 38-yard line, Spencer hit Jaren Mortensen on a 38-yard TD strike to effectively put the game out of reach,27-14.
It was the second TD reception of the game for Mortensen, who also had two interceptions for the defending state champs.
“We knew we had to pick up, they had the momentum, we just stuck with it, and just got it done,” said Mortensen.
Parowan’s last two possessions ended in interceptions as Duchesne punched its ticket to next Saturday’s championship at Southern Utah at 1:30 p.m.
“It’s always a new challenge. People think it gets old, it gets boring, but I’ll tell you what, every year is different, the heart pumps, the excitement is always going to be there,” said Cowan.
Duchesne looked like it might roll into the championship game after building a 21-0 halftime lead by scoring on all three of its possessions.
Weston Poulson gave Duchesne the early 6-0 lead on a 4-yard burst to cap a 17-play drive with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Parowan responded with an impressive 13-play drive but it ended with an interception on fourth-and-long.
Duchesne’s methodical offense immediately went back to work on a 14-play drive that Poulson again punctuated on a 1-yard run for the 14-0 lead with 1:14 left in the half.
A fortuitous bounce allowed Duchesne to add another touchdown before the half. Nine seconds after going ahead 14-0, it pushed the lead to 21-0 as Spencer hit Mortensen on a 20-yard TD pass one play after Parowan fumbled.
Parowan could’ve easily folded up shop in the second half, but it started to build momentum defensively by forcing the Eagles into three straight points. It then converted on its first two possessions of the third quarter whittling the deficit to 21-14.
Porter Miller scored first on a 13-yard TD run and then Porter Wood connected with Ethan Guymon on a 41-yard TD strike with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
“That’s how sports are supposed to be. No one wants to come out and watch a 21-0 game and watch the other team just quit. Give them credit, they came out, they believed in themselves and they got themselves back in the game,” said Cowan.
Parowan had a possession to try and match downfield to tie the game, but a holding penalty backed it up and it was forced to punt.
Duchesne responded with an 11-play drive that featured two fourth-down conversions and the 38-yard TD pass to Mortensen.