Hawks dominate Judge Memorial 20-9 for homecoming
By James Tilson
MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete Hawks dominated the line of scrimmage and overcame their own mistakes to defeat the Judge Memorial Bulldogs, 20-9, in a homecoming game last Friday, Sept. 7.
“Friday was a stressful night, but it ended up in our favor,” said Hawks Coach Rhett Bird.
The cause of the stress was a plethora of mistakes and missed opportunities through the first half that kept Judge Memorial in the game far longer than needed.
The Hawks started the game strong. After kicking off to the Bulldogs, North Sanpete intercepted Bulldog quarterback Tomas Young on the Bulldog’s end of the field.
North Sanpete ran the ball right at the Bulldogs, which set up an effective play-action pass to running back Ethan Bowles for the first touchdown of the night.
On Judge Memorial’s next possession, the Bulldogs punted to the Hawks. Cesar Lemus of North Sanpete made an electrifying return, setting the Hawks up in the Bulldog’s end of the field again. And then the mistakes began.
The Hawks missed the opportunity to break the game open by fumbling the ball away. When they got the ball back deep in their own territory, they could not move it forward and were forced to punt. The snapper fired the ball over the punter’s head, and he had to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety.
The next time the Hawks got the ball back, the same thing happened. A snap went over the punter’s head. Only this time Judge Memorial was able to take over the ball at the Hawk 30- yard line and score their only touchdown of the night, making the score 7-9.
North Sanpete had a chance to take the lead before the half when Mason Burgess scored what first appeared to be a 49 yard rushing touchdown, only to have the score nullified by a holding call. The half ended with the Hawks still behind 7-9.
Luckily for the Hawks, their defense played lights out the entire game. The only points Judge Memorial scored were from Hawk miscues.
Speaking of his defense, Coach Bird pointed to his linemen’s work in the off-season, and dedication to defensive assignments. “They are much more disciplined this year, and are trusting their keys,” he said.
The Hawks came out after half-time with a renewed focus and determination. The defense played even better than during the first half, forcing three straight three-and-outs, then an interception and then a fumble.
During this time, the Hawk offense was moving the ball but could not finish drives. Hawk quarterback Chance Clausen threw the ball right into receivers’ hands, but at least three times, the receivers couldn’t hang on.
“Chance played awesome on Friday and gave guys chances to make some big plays,” the coach said. “Now we need to focus on finishing the plays when our number is called.”
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Hawks put it all together. On the first possession, the Hawks drove the length of the field and finished off with a Mason Burgess 20-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-9.
Then, after intercepting a Bulldogs pass, Clausen sealed the victory with his own 36-yard touchdown romp to make the score 20-9.
Chance Clausen went 4-12 for 40 yards in passing and led the team in rushing with 103 yards.
This week, the Hawks open up region play by traveling to Draper to face the Soaring Eagles of Juan Diego, last year’s 3A state champs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Juan Diego is a favorite to go back to the state finals again, but Coach Bird and his staff are looking forward to the challenge.
“We have some great minds on our staff, and we will be using a scheme to take away what Juan Diego does best,” Coach Bird said. “We are prepared to switch things up and create as much chaos as possible.”