Kids played well. They played hard, but you just can't miss on opportunities like that against good teams. —Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank
SALT LAKE CITY — Too many missed opportunities in the red zone, overthrown passes to wide-open receivers and poor execution on fourth down can do most football teams in, and particularly so when going against a team like East. Lone Peak had opportunities throughout its 28-13 loss to the Leopards during Friday's semifinals, but couldn't execute during key moments, in what was a closely-contested game throughout the first half and into the third quarter.
The Knights actually outgained the Leopards with 355 yards to just 227 for the game, but other key stats proved the difference, like going just 1-7 on fourth down and stalling within the red zone on two notable occasions.
The first missed red zone opportunity came in the first half when set up with a first-and-goal situation from East's 4-yard line with the game tied at 7-7 late in the first half. A couple of incompletions and a sack set the Knights back a bit before a bad snap on an attempted field goal squandered the opportunity.
The second was early in the fourth quarter when the game wasn't completely out-of-hand, with East leading 28-7, but an interception preempted the opportunity and pretty much all hope of a comeback win.
"Kids played well. They played hard, but you just can't miss on opportunities like that against good teams," said Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank.
Lone Peak did manage to limit East's powerful running attack, save for a handful of occasions in which the Leopards gashed the Knight defense for big yardage and scoring runs of 39, 43 and 21 yards.
When Lone Peak did create East miscues it failed to cash in — most notably early in the second half, when a spectacular one-handed interception by Nate Ritchie in East territory went for naught. Another opportunity squandered was when quarterback Brock Jones just missed a wide-open Cody Collins for what would have been an easy touchdown.
"Those were huge momentum swings," Brockbank said.
Although disappointed in the loss, Brockbank was proud of what his team accomplished.
"I think the kids should be very proud of themselves," Brockbank said. "A lot of these kids battled uphill, without a lot of returning starters."
Brockbank pointed out a key characteristic of this year's team which led to it exceeding expectations.
"These guys worked harder than any team I've ever had," Brockbank said. "These guys have good talent, but no superstars and we played a lot of underclassmen. I'll just remember how hard they battled every day."