EPHRAIM—Snow College alumni and special guests who came to Ephraim Saturday experienced an evening of campus activities and a victory by the Snow football team over ASA Miami.
The Badgers won the game, 27-6, after scoring 27 unanswered points. The ASA Silver Storm struck first with a touchdown.
Snow Coach Zac Erekson said in a season defined by adversity, the players and coaches were proud to improve to 5-0 in front of a big crowd that included some of their predecessors, as well as Rep. Burgess Owens.
“[The alumni] are a huge support to us, and they’re the ones who laid the foundation for what we’re doing,” Erekson said. “For us to be able to represent them the right way, it’s been awesome.”
Alumni watched the game and a live-stream of the Badger volleyball team competing in the national championship on the scoreboard screen.
Rick Wilding, a former player and member of the class of 1978, said he was impressed with the team and facilities.
“The modernization of things has been good,” he said in reference to the new field house and upgrades for this first season played in Badger Stadium.
Erekson is in his first season as head coach. After former opponents in the Scenic West Athletic Conference cut their football programs, it is also the first season the team has played independent of a conference, which has severely increased their travel.
But for the fifth time this season on Saturday, neither those changes, nor the pandemic, nor the opponent Snow faced could stop the Badgers.
Early in the contest, ASA Miami came out aggressive. Erekson said they were “gashing” Snow’s defensive line to open up rushing opportunities. And he credited ASA’s defensive approach for forcing Snow to punt often in the first half.
Postgame interview: Snow College Head Coach Zak Erekson
Snow’s first two drives and ASA’s first all ended in punts. But in its second drive, the Silver Storm put together strong rushes, a deep sideline catch to move into Snow territory and an 11-yard touchdown pass thrown by quarterback George Pearson to receiver Lorenzo Hardy’s back shoulder just inside the goal line.
That touchdown pass at the 5:30 mark in the first quarter went down as the team’s final scoring play, as Silver Storm kicker Payton Kendall missed the extra point.
Erekson attributed the Snow defense and coaching staff under defensive coordinator Jan Jorgensen for holding ASA scoreless the rest of the game. He commended linebackers, in particular, for playing with more patience and filling the holes ASA was running through for big gains early in the game.
“We made that adjustment; got our linebackers to slow down,” Erekson said. “In the second half, they weren’t able to hit us” as frequently in the open field.
As the defense settled into the updated game plan, the offense also found a rhythm in the second quarter.
Erekson said, “Towards the end of the first half, we realized they couldn’t match our physicality up front. So we said, you know what, let’s just play big-boy football.”
The pace of the game and Badger offensive production picked up simultaneously as Snow started having success in the ground game. Erekson said “Power,” a running play that concentrates extra blockers in spots specific to the running back’s path, was the team’s “money play.”
“Our offensive line, tight ends played out of their minds tonight,” Erekson said. “Seth Kaylen, at running back, this was his first start in college, he played out of his mind.”
Kaylen carried the ball for each of Snow’s first two touchdowns. One came just before halftime and gave the team a momentum swing when it took the 7-6 lead. The next occurred at 12:10 in the third quarter, after ASA botched a punt that set Snow up deep in the red zone to begin the drive.
From that point on, it was all Snow.
Quarterback Garrison Beach went on to connect with receivers Myller Royals and Tevita Noa for two more touchdowns over the final two quarters, and kicker Stockton Lund finished three for four on extra points.
ASA threatened to score with a drive into Snow territory midway through the fourth quarter when the score was 21-6. But on 4th and 3 from the Snow 21-yard line, Snow linebacker Owen Faamoe broke up a slant-route pass intended for Storm slot receiver Willie Gross.
Erekson said the team has had a lot of fun in its success so far this season after games last year were cancelled.
“These guys love it, and they’ve worked their butts off for it,” the coach said.
The team has been fortunate to have opportunities to keep players on campus, and the challenges have even fueled them to excel this year, he added.
“A lot of people complain about COVID and all the things that it’s bringing; I think it’s worked in our benefit,” Erekson said. “For us to be able to get these guys to know and understand and appreciate every opportunity that they get, they’re not taking it for granted anymore. When you’ve got guys out there doing that; it’s easy to coach.”
The evening ended in continued celebration with a big crowd of fans and alumni on the field, despite chilly weather.
“The support and the crowd we get, it’s the best in the country,” Erekson said. “We’ve been all over the country, especially this year. There’s nobody who does it like Ephraim, Utah on a Saturday night for junior-college football.”
This Saturday, Snow will play at home again. They will host Gordon State College from Barnesville, Georgia. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.