How fast is Skyridge defensive lineman Stone Mulitalo?
Mulitalo’s long fumble return for a touchdown was one of two defensive scores for the Falcons in Friday’s 28-14 victory on the road at Orem and a key part of a strong defensive effort by the visitors.
“That’s the kind of game we like to play,” Skyridge coach Jon Lehman said. “We’re ready to play any game we’re in, but me personally, if it gets a little bit gritty and grimy, I like that. It’s fun football.”
Orem scored on its own scoop and score, a 45-yard fumble return by Buju Tuisavura, for a 7-0 first quarter lead. The Tigers drove deep into Skyridge territory on their next possession but a fumble in the backfield provided Mulitalo his moment of glory.
The junior picked up the loose ball, escaped one tackle and rumbled 75 yards for a score to tie the game.
“I saw the ball and went for it,” Mulitalo said. “I felt the quarterback try to grab me by the ankle but I stepped over him and I just ran and kept running until I saw the end zone. I turned back a couple of times to see if there were any blue (Orem) jerseys behind me but all I saw were my teammates. My coaches tease me because they think I am the slowest defensive lineman on the team. I just had to show them they were wrong.”
Lehman was impressed.
“Stone shrugged off a guy and created some separation,” he said. “He’s a junior and this is the second defensive scoop and score for him. He had one last year against Jordan in the semifinals. He’s just a special kid and a special player.”
On Orem’s very next offensive play a bad shotgun snap sailed over quarterback Pono Kahala-Giron’s head and into the end zone, where Skyridge linebacker Carson Baker fell on it for another touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
The Falcons got their offense in sync later in the second quarter and quarterback Emmett Call capped a six-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 halftime lead.
“You’ve got to be ready for any kind of game,” Lehman said. “When they scored that first defensive touchdown, especially where the ball pops out on kind of a funky play like that, our guys could have easily gotten down on each other or themselves. But they just put their heads down and kept working.”
Orem (2-3) managed to cut into the Skyridge lead early in the fourth quarter. Pono Kahala-Giron converted a fourth down with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Kane Kahala-Giron to pull the Tigers within one score at 21-14 with 11:45 to play.
Skyridge countered with an eight-play, 67-yard, five-minute scoring drive. A roughing the passing penalty on Orem on a third-and-long play kept the drive alive and Call connected with Dylan Samuels on a play-action pass that went 39 yards for a score and a 28-14 lead with 6:34 remaining. The Falcons got a key defensive stop and ran down the final 3:28 to claim the victory.
Sophomore running back Jeter Fenton was the hammer for the Skyridge offense, carrying the ball 24 times for 122 yards and setting up the clinching touchdown pass from Call to Samuels. Pono Kahala-Giron threw for 164 yards and a score for Orem but several errant snaps out of the shotgun formation and a hustling Skyridge defense held the Tigers to minus-31 yards rushing.
Skyridge (4-0) opens Region 4 play next Friday at American Fork. Orem begins Region 7 play next week with a home game against Timpanogos.