SALT LAKE CITY — In that one moment, it became pretty clear how Friday’s 4A championship would unfold.
With Orem facing a first down and 44 after five straight plays with a penalty, Dixie’s stout defense was in position to try and flip momentum early in the game and Orem only leading 7-0.
On the very next play, however, Orem completed a 48-yard pass to Puka Nacua for the first down. It was a hope-crushing moment for Dixie, with Orem scoring a few plays later for the 14-0 lead on its way to the 60-13 blowout win at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“Just as you think you’re going to get a little bit of momentum they come out … and get a 48-yard catch for a first down,” said Dixie coach Blaine Monkres.
“You play a great team like that you can’t afford to make mistakes, and we made too many mistakes. And they make you look bad too because they’re so good.”
Monkres said there were too many mistakes in the first half with the execution of the game plan, but with his team only down 20-0 at halftime the mood in the locker room was still relatively upbeat.
The spirits were lifted even more when Dixie scored just 46 seconds into the third quarter to whittle the lead to 20-7.
“We had made enough mistakes that if we came out and didn’t make the same ones in the second half we had a chance,” said Monkres.
The momentum of that early touchdown didn’t last long as Orem scored four minutes later, the first of five straight touchdowns to put the game away.
“They’re a good team, that’s all there is to it. They make plays and they have players everywhere across the board,” said Monkres.
The runner-up trophy is not what Dixie players envisioned when they made the trek up to Salt Lake City, but Monkres said the hurt will eventually subside and they’ll realize what a great accomplishment getting to the championship was a year after losing in the quarterfinals.1 comment on this story
“I feel sorry for the kids. They put their time and effort and work in, but again when they look back on it in two weeks and say we played for the state title and did better than we’ve ever done as a team, and they can be proud of that fact,” said Monkres. “Yes it’s going to hurt cause you’re so close, but at the same time there are 60 other teams that would trade you places today.”
Dixie’s offense finished the game with just 217 yards of total offense, while the defense didn’t fare much better with Orem racking up 573 yards.