Bulldogs finish sason with win, beating Eagles, 34-22
By Matt Haris
GUNNISON—For the second year in a row, Gunnison football wrapped up the regular season with a win.
The Bulldogs held off a late rally by the visiting Layton Christian Academy Eagles and won, 34-22.
“That’s an overall team win,” Coach Patrick King said. “We played terrific in every aspect. When you’re getting five turnovers, you’re doing something right.”
The Bulldogs won the turnover battle in a huge way with two interceptions and three fumble recoveries, but they were out-gained by the LCA offense, 385 total yards to Gunnison’s 325. Gunnison had its hands full with LCA’s running back Siona Latu, who rushed for 171 yards on 20 carries.
Junior quarterback Jack Hansen completed 10 of 18 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Hansen also led the team in rushing with 89 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Senior running back Zach Stewart had 19 carries for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
King knew the large LCA linemen, despite a lack of team depth, would cause problems for the Bulldogs initially, and so it was that Gunnison had their plays blown up often early in the first quarter. Nevertheless, Gunnison adjusted and capitalized on a speed advantage outside to drive downfield on their second possession, ending with a right-side sweep for the 3-yard touchdown by Stewart; followed by a failed 2-point conversion to make it 6-0.
In the second quarter, the Eagles went to the passing plays and caught the Gunnison secondary with a man behind them as they completed a 54-yard touchdown pass.
In the final minute before halftime, Stewart put another score on the board, sweeping right and then reaching for the goal line for a 3-yard touchdown run. Gunnison got one more chance to score before the end of the half, but the 45-yard field goal was just a hair too short.
The third quarter went entirely scoreless, if for nothing else than to prepare for a fourth-quarter firestorm.
After the Bulldogs forced a fumble in the final play of the third quarter, Hansen completed a screen pass to freshman Pearson Judy, who took it over 40 yards for a touchdown, followed by a catch for a 2-point conversion by sophomore Xander Spraycar, his first catch in varsity football.
On the ensuing possession, sophomore Bryson Sorensen intercepted LCA’s quarterback, the Bulldogs’ fourth takeaway of the game. Sorensen took it all the way back to the 5-yard line, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run on the next play by junior Dylan Anderson for a 27-6 lead midway through the fourth.
The Eagles responded quickly with a touchdown to make it competitive again, and another touchdown on their ensuing offensive possession on a long pass to make it 27-22.
With the Eagles looking for the big-time defensive stop, Gunnison faced a 3rd-and-3 at midfield. With the intention of picking up the first down, Hansen bounced off the blitz and swept outside right, outrunning everyone for a game-sealing 43-yard scoring run.
Junior Carson Yardley intercepted LCA to end it with just over a minute remaining.
Gunnison ended with a 3-5 overall record, including a 3-2 region mark. They earned a No. 10 ranking in final RPI and will face No. 7 Parowan this coming Friday in the first round of the playoffs.