SALT LAKE CITY — The start to Thursday’s 6A semifinal couldn’t have been much worse for Lone Peak.
Wake’s absence and Siri’s limitations contributed to a disappointing offensive performance from the Knights at Rice-Eccles Stadium as they racked up just 149 total yards against rival Pleasant Grove.
Incredibly, what little offense Lone Peak generated was more than enough.
Lone Peak’s defense and special teams were phenomenal as they slowed Pleasant Grove all game and in the process set the offense up with terrific field positions as the Knights rolled to the 29-0 win over region foe Pleasant Grove.
“We rely heavily on our special teams and our defense to put us in great spots so our offense can go in and create momentum with scores,” said Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank.
Lone Peak’s defense recorded five sacks, 12 tackles for loss and three interceptions in recording its second shutout of the season, while the special teams blocked a punt and had a huge kickoff return on another sequence to create great field position.
The starting field position on Lone Peak’s first three touchdowns was the Pleasant Grove 17-yard line as it built a 20-0 lead late in the third quarter.
With the win, Lone Peak advances to next Friday’s championship game against another rival, American Fork, at 2:30 p.m.
“I expect a dogfight, they’re obviously a great team, they have a high-powered offense, good defense. I think we’re just ready for a bloodbath,” said Brockbank.
After Lone Peak’s opening two drives stalled near midfield, the special teams came up with a huge play to set the offense up at the 1-yard line as Michael Daley raced in to block a delayed punt from Pleasant Grove.
Backup quarterback Davis Child, who handled the short-yardage rushing situations with Siri out, punched it in on the second play of the second quarter for the 6-0 Lone Peak lead.
“Every week we have film sessions just on special teams, we just go through everything, watch film make sure we know what our position does and try and execute on (Friday night),” said Daley.
In addition to the blocked punt, Daley finished with 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss as Lone Peak harassed Pleasant Grove standout quarterback Jake Jensen all game.
Lone Peak’s offense was bottled up itself in the first half as it only recorded 53 yards in the first half and only led 6-0.
Pleasant Grove had a chance to cut into the lead before halftime, but the 20th play of an impressive drive that started at its own 5-yard line ended in a missed field goal — the second missed field goal opportunity of the first half.
A big kick return from Kobe Freeman to start the third quarter helped turn the tide. His 72-yard return set Lone Peak up with terrific field position, which Child punched in five plays later on a 2-yard run to push the lead to 13-0.
The two-score lead changed the entire complexion of the game according to Brockbank.
“It opens up a lot. On defense it opens up a lot of things we can do, you can do more stunts and blitzes cause you can take a few more chances when you have the lead. And offensively we can be a lot more conservative because we have the lead and we can try and burn the clock,” said Brockbank.
Lone Peak effectively put the game out of reach at the 2:41 mark of the third quarter when Kobe Freeman scored on a four-yard TD run for the 20-0 lead. The short field was set up by Cade Baker’s interception.Comment on this story
Freeman finished the game with 17 carries for 63 yards as he helped pick up the slack in Wake’s absence.
“Honestly when Mason went down I knew I needed to step it up cause I was the backup fullback,” said Freeman.
Brock McChesney put the finishing touches on the win midway through the fourth quarter as he returned an interception 42 yards for the 29-0 lead.
The win was Lone Peak’s sixth straight since losing at American Fork 51-21 in Week 6, a loss it will get a chance to avenge in the championship game.