Hawks Grind out 16-3 win
at home over Union Cougars
By James Tilson
MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete Hawks, whose motto has been “Grind,” did exactly that last Friday night in a gritty win over the Union Cougars, 16-3.
Describing the Hawk’s winning strategy in its home opener Friday, Aug. 24, Coach Rhett Bird said, “Our philosophy is exactly that we chew up time and keep our defense off the field. We believe we can play with anyone in our classification if we can control the ball.”
The Hawks started the scoring early when they recovered a Cougar fumble at mid-field and drove for a touchdown, which made the score 6-0. (The extra-point attempt was blocked.)
Union countered later in the half and drove the length of the field, but came up with only a field goal. The score stayed at 6-3 for the rest of the half, as both teams struggled to get any consistent offense going.
After the half, the Hawks put their adjustments into play and started moving the ball. Running back Maison Burgess and quarterback Chance Clawson kept the ball on the ground and in the first drive of the second half scored the second touchdown of the night to make the score 13-3.
“It all started with our offensive line,” Coach Bird said. “We have a mutual trust with them and have told them if they see gaps in the game to let us know and we will exploit them, and that is exactly what happened.
“During halftime, they felt like we could run an inside blast. That was our very first play [after halftime] which went for 17 yards. All the credit goes to our guys up front.”
After exchanging possessions, North Sanpete took over at the end of the third quarter and starting driving. And driving. And still driving. The Hawks wound up driving the length of the field, using all of the rest of the third quarter and all but 3:04 of the fourth quarter, to kick a field goal and put the game out of reach for the final score 16-3.
Burgess ran for 78 yards in the game, and Clawson chipped in for 60. The Hawks concentrated on their running game, and passed infrequently (5-11 for 37 yards), although Clawson left some points on the field when he overthrew a couple of open receivers early in the game. But the name of the game for the Hawks was efficiency, as they went 7-14 on 3rd down conversions, and 1-2 on 4th down.
The Hawk defense was also very effective containing the Cougar spread offense. The Cougars would often line up with four and five split receivers. But the Hawks countered by dropping five linebackers into zone coverage with the defensive backs, frustrating the Cougars’ quarterback with very few openings. “We have exceptional linebackers, and the 3-4 allows us to use those guys,” Coach Bird said. “They are more athletic, but are still able to stop the run.”
The Hawks travel to Cedar City this week to take on the Cedar Redmen on Friday Aug. 31 with kick-off scheduled at 7 p.m.