SALT LAKE CITY — Roy always knew that upsetting Skyridge in the 5A semifinal would be difficult, but it also knew that with its stingy defense there would be opportunities.
Sure enough, the defense forced a couple of turnovers throughout the game to create opportunities for the offense, but Roy couldn’t take advantage.
The Royals recovered a fumble in both the first and third quarters but couldn’t capitalize on either, leaving potential points on the field it desperately needed to try and pull off the upset.
“Offensively we just left too many plays out on the field. I thought we were so close on about three other plays that would’ve given us 28 points,” said Roy coach Fred Fernandes.
Roy playmaker Kyrese Rowan echoed that sentiment after his team’s 42-15 loss to Skyridge at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“You can’t afford to miss those ever in a regular season game, especially in the semifinals,” said Rowan.
It didn’t help that Roy threw a 10-yard pick-six on a third-and-40 at the 5:17 mark of the second quarter either, but by then Skyridge had already seized control of the game.
“They came out with a little more energy than us, they were hooting and hollering, we don’t really do that and I think that hyped up a little bit and got in our heads,” said Rowan.
That energy helped Skyridge jump out to a quick 14-0 lead with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter, but that’s when Roy showed some fight to claw back into the game.
Dionte Davis hauled in a 60-yard touchdown pass from Jaxson Dart to cut the lead to 14-7 with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
Roy’s typically stout defense then forced a fumble to halt a promising Skyridge drive, setting its offense up with a chance to tie the game. Six plays into that drive Roy’s offense swung for the fences.
Instead of calling a conservative play on third and 2 at the 46, Roy tossed the ball deep with Dart’s throw bouncing off the fingertips of the intended receiver.
Roy’s other big missed opportunity came late in third quarter after recovering a Skyridge fumble deep in Skyridge territory — which came immediately after cutting the deficit to 35-15. The Royals tried to take advantage of the momentum with a trick play but fumbled it right back on a backward pass.
“We have a trick play dialed up that’s going to be a home run for us and we just blew it,” said Fernandes.
Later in the fourth quarter, Fernandes was ejected for picking up back-to-back personal foul penalties after walking way out onto the field to talk to the ref after his team came up inches short on a fourth down play.1 comment on this story
Fernandes said he walked out so far because he felt the ref was ignoring him, but Fernandes had been given the wrong information before the game and was calling the ref the wrong name.
“I was warranted, I was out on the field, but I thought the first (penalty) was a warning,” said Fernandes.
What made the situation worse was that the jumbotron at Rice-Eccles Stadium was broadcasting the KJZZ feed and kept showing the replay of what appeared to be a bad spot on the fourth down play.
There is no replay in high school football, so Fernandes’ complaints were a moot point and resulted in his ejected with 8:04 left in the game and his team trailing 35-15.