We just played well, we just didn’t play good enough. They capitalized on some things, and we didn’t. That’s just the way the bounces in that game. —Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen
SALT LAKE CITY — When a team gets blown out in the semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium, it usually has several hours to absorb the disappointment as the game wears on. And in those situations, it usually stings a bit less because there’s never one or two things that led to the loss.
That’s how Stansbury felt last year in the semifinals when it was blown out by Desert Hills 49-14 after a competitive first quarter.
Thursday’s return visit to the 4A semifinals had a much different feel as Stansbury walked off the field following a 17-7 loss to Mountain Crest. There were plays to be made throughout the game, particularly in the second half, that could’ve led to a much different outcome.
“We missed some shots, we had some guys, we just didn’t make some plays when we had too, but our kids they fought so hard,” said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen. “That’s a very good football team, and our guys went toe to toe with them.”
In fact, Stansbury outgained Mountain Crest in total offense 336-320. It just didn’t capitalize as well as the Mustangs.
“We just played well, we just didn’t play good enough. They capitalized on some things, and we didn’t. That’s just the way the bounces in that game,” said Christiansen.
Down 17-0 at the half, Stansbury showed great resilience in the second half trimming the lead to 17-7 on a Tavita Gagnier 5-yard TD run with 7:32 left in the third quarter.
It had a chance to cut into the lead more but missed a field goal late in the third.
“I thought if we got that field goal we could’ve made it real interesting down here at the end,” said Christiansen.
Stansbury had another chance to maybe kick a field goal in the final three minutes, but Christiansen elected to go for it on fourth-and-14. He said, of course, he’ll second guess maybe not trying the field goal and getting lucky with the onside kick.
The simple fact Stansbury was in the hunt late in the game shows its progress as a program from last year. And not just going back to last year, but Week 4 this season when Mountain Crest beat Stansbury.
“From where they started the year and where we finished the year, we’re a great football team. Of course, I’m upset that we lost, but I’m proud of them. They had a great year,” said Christiansen.
Turnovers were a big problem for Stansbury throughout the year, and particularly in the previous loss to Mountain Crest. On Thursday, both teams had two fumbles, and Christiansen wonders how differently the game might’ve played out without them.