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Qiling Wang, Deseret News
Skyridge's Ma'a Notoa (32) scores a touchdown during the 5A semifinal against Roy High School at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier in the week, Roy head coach Fred Fernandes called Skyridge linebacker Blayden Togiai “maybe the best defensive player in the state.”

On Friday afternoon on the big stage at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Togiai proved him right. With Roy facing 3rd and 40, backed up on its own one-yard line late in the second quarter, Togiai picked off Roy quarterback Jaxson Dart and took it to the house, putting the Falcons up 28-7.

“It wasn’t me at all, it was just the d-line getting a good rush on that quarterback, giving him pressure, making him feel uncomfortable, and as soon that he felt uncomfortable, he threw a ball that he usually doesn’t throw because that quarterback is a really good quarterback. He threw a bad ball and I was just in the right place at the right time,” Togiai said.

Just a few minutes later, Ma’a Notoa rumbled in for a two-yard touchdown run to increase Skyridge’s lead to 28 points before halftime, all but sealing the game right there.

Skyridge dominated Roy, winning 42-15 to advance to the 5A championship for the second straight year.

“I’ve got a lot of pride, because I know how hard they work and I know what they sacrifice to be a team and to love each other and to play hard, do practice, week in and week out. Anybody who is a part of the process with a team understands the cost, and so when these guys show up and play for each other and love each other, there’s no greater feeling for me, ” Skyridge head coach Jon Lehman said.

The backbreaker for Roy happened early in the second quarter. After forcing a fumble, down seven, the Royals took over on their own 21, but couldn’t put together a game-tying drive. After Roy was forced to punt, Tyler Arrington caught a 29-yard pass from Jayden Clemons to give Skyridge a 21-7 lead.

“That was it. It just takes a belief, you know? Things are going to happen, you’re going to get punched in games and you have to believe in each other and you have to trust the game plan and you have to keep playing,” Lehman said.

The Falcons dominated the Royals in the first half, outgaining Roy 259 to 90 in total offense. Skyridge had a balanced attack of rushing and passing, gaining 152 passing yards and 107 rushing yards. Roy’s rushing attack was almost nonexistent, with the Royals ending up with -18 rushing yards in the first half of action.

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“To defend their run, you can’t play with a lot of tricks, because if you get out of position, they’ll make big plays. It’s really, as a playcaller, it makes me a little bit uncomfortable, because they kind of take the game out of my hands, but our guys get us lined up and let us go out there and just play base football, be disciplined, be focused, play physical, and make plays,” Lehman said.

Skyridge scored the first two touchdowns of the game, on a 9-yard Notoa run and a 21-yard Clemons strike to James Palmer. Roy scored its first touchdown of the afternoon on a 60-yard bomb from Dart to Dionte Davis, but it would be all Skyridge for the rest of the half, as the Falcons scored 21 unanswered.

Roy scored late in the third quarter, on a two-yard pass from Dart to Cade Harris. Skyridge put a cap on the game with a 31-yard touchdown run by Clemons.