×
×
homepage logo

Lehi football outlasts Stansbury to return to 5A championship

By Jared Lloyd - | Nov 11, 2021
1 / 11
Lehi's Hema Katoa (left) and Isaac Terrell take down Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris for a sack during a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
2 / 11
Lehi's William McCleary (51) wrestles down Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris during a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
3 / 11
The Lehi football team leaves the field at halftime a 5A state football semifinal against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
4 / 11
Lehi's Jaxon Christensen (84) makes a catch near the sideline during a 5A state football semifinal against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
5 / 11
Lehi quarterback Jackson Brousseau throws deep during a 5A state football semifinal against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
6 / 11
Lehi's Austin McWilliams (56) and William McCleary (51) celebrate a defensive play during a 5A state football semifinal against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
7 / 11
Lehi fans react to a play on the field during a 5A state football semifinal against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
8 / 11
Lehi running back Carson Gonzales sprints away from the Stansbury defense on a 40-yard touchdown run in a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
9 / 11
Lehi football coach Ed Larson looks up at the scoreboard during a 5A state football semifinal against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
10 / 11
Lehi's Kadiyon Sweat and his teammates swarm all over Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris during a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)
11 / 11
Lehi's William McCleary (51) applies pressure to Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris during a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald)

It’s been four years since the Lehi football team blasted past crosstown foe Skyridge to win the 2017 5A state championship.

Now the Pioneers are headed back to attempt to replicate that success.

Lehi put together an excellent defensive performance against the fast-paced Stansbury attack and made key fourth-down plays, securing the solid 28-14 win in Thursday’s semifinal matchup at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

“I’m happy we won but I’m not happy with how we played,” Pioneer head coach Ed Larson said. “Hats off to Stansbury. They came ready to play. They did some things that exposed us and we made too many mistakes in all three phases of the game.”

It appeared that the up-tempo approach of the Stallions might be capable of causing Lehi problems. Stansbury took the ball on its first possession and marched 82 yards on 16 plays to score on a four-yard pass from quarterback Ezra Harris to receiver Dylan Hamilton to put the Stallions up, 7-0.

But the Pioneer defense rose to the challenge, holding Stansbury to just one more score throughout the rest of the game — although Larson saw too many miscues.

When it had to, however, Lehi came up big when the outcome was still in question midway through the fourth quarter.

Trailing by 14 points, the Stallions drove deep into Pioneer territory, earning a first a goal from the Lehi 4-yard line.

But three straight runs by Stansbury could only gain two yards and when the Stallions elected to go for it, the Pioneer defense stuffed Stansbury running back Nathan Bushnell for no gain to force the turnover on downs.

“We had some breakdowns,” Larson said. “Yes, we had a couple of goal-line stands but they shouldn’t have gotten that close in the first place.”

The Lehi offense then put the game away by going 15 plays and running out more than eight minutes off of the clock, holding the ball until the final whistle blew.

“The offense did exactly what they needed to on that last drive,” Larson said. “It helped to mix it up a little bit with the run and the pass but overall I felt like that was a big plus for us.”

It wasn’t the most prolific performance by the Pioneer offense but, led by quarterback Jackson Brousseau 21-of37, 248 yards, three touchdowns and one interception) and running back Carson Gonzales (114 yards on 16 carries with one TD, it got the job done.

Lehi answered the first Stallion score with a scoring drive that was set up by returner Kadiyon Sweat making a big return on the ensuing kickoff, taking it to the Stansbury 37-yard line.

The Pioneers needed seven plays and a conversion on a fourth-and-1, but Brousseau hit wide receiver Jaxon Christensen on an out route. Christensen then turned inside and strolled into the end zone for the 21-yard score.

That would’ve tied the game but the extra point was off, allowing the Stallions to maintain a 7-6 lead.

But that wouldn’t last long as Lehi defensive lineman William McLeary recovered a bobbled pitch from Stansbury, once again giving the Pioneers great field position.

Lehi got pushed back with a sack and a holding call, but converted a fourth-and-10 and then scored on a gorgeous pass from Brousseau to tight end Boston Bingham to go up 14-7.

The Pioneers scored on their next possession as well, getting a 40-yard scoring run from Gonzales on — you guessed it — fourth-and-1.

Stansbury made one more big scoring play, a 65-yard TD pass from Harris to Hamilton, to get to within one score heading into halftime.

But Lehi got a fourth touchdown in the third quarter, a nine-yard pass from Brousseau to Christensen, that ended up capping the scoring.

Larson said that his biggest concern about the game was the fact that his team was making more mistakes than it had been.

“You get to breathe another week and if we play this bad and win next week, my feelings will be completely different,” Larson said. “Right now you just worry as a coach that we’re taking steps backwards when we can’t be doing that. My takeaway right now is that we’ve got to fix those.”

The Pioneers now turn their attention to facing No. 1-seed Springville in the 5A title game next week as they attempt to bring another championship to Lehi.

“Looking at where we were in 2017 to now, I think this team has overcome some of more deficiencies than in 2017,” Larson said. “I don’t think we’re as talented as that 2017 team but I’ll match a match the hearts of these guys all day long because they just keep giving and giving and giving. That’s what’s fun. I told my principal this last week that whatever happens, these guys have fun to coach. They give you everything they have and they love the game.”

Lehi is set to face the Red Devils in the title game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday at 11 a.m.

Newsletter

Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)