ROOSEVELT—The Templars talked openly about wanting to improve their offense inside the 20- yard line this season, and it only took one drive to prove it.
Senior Dallin Sweat’s first varsity carry turned into a 2-yard touchdown, first of the game, as Manti football prevailed over Union on the road, 35-21, last Friday.
“Not too bad for a first night out,” coach Cole Meacham said. “We saw some good things. The offense spread the ball around. We still have some things to work on, but I thought the kids played pretty good.”
The Templar offense had a lot to prove after scoring more than 32 points only once last season, which was against Carbon.
Union, like Manti, expected to make significant improvements to their team this year, but Manti’s offense fired on all cylinders throughout the game, scoring touchdowns on each of their first two drives.
“I feel good about where we’re at right now,” Meacham said. “Union’s a good team, but we’re gonna run into some tough teams that are gonna challenge us. As far as early in the year, with our execution, I feel a lot better.”
Senior quarterback Kayson Douglas had his best game ever as a Manti quarterback, completing 12 of 16 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He tied his single-game personal records for pass efficiency and touchdowns.
Senior running back Larsen Pogroszewski was efficient as well with 12 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown, an average of 6.6 yards per carry.
Union came ready to compete. On the Cougars’ first drive, quarterback Jaxon Rasmussen connected with Alec Labrum for a 48-yard bomb over the defense to even the score at 7-7.
Senior Larsen Pogroszewski gave Manti great field position on the next play with a return to the Union 29-yard line. But the team started to struggle with miscues on the snap, committing three false starts.
Douglas finally broke through and avoided a lost opportunity with a 22-yard shot at the end zone to senior receiver Reggie Frischknecht. Like he has many times, Frischknecht leapt for the jump ball and came down with it.
“If we get single coverage on Reggie, it’s tough for any defender to take him,” Meacham said. “If we can do some other things with the offense and spread the ball around where they have to go there and not double-cover Reggie, we’ve got a shot to make something happen.”
As Union’s defense began to toughen up in the second quarter, Douglas found another of his trusty receivers, hitting junior Hunter Stevens on the go for a 62-yard score. The Cougars blocked the PAT to keep the score at 20-7.
Manti put one more on the board in the second quarter with a 20-yard touchdown throw, once again showing the special connection between Douglas and Frischknecht. Sweat punched in a two-point conver- sion for push the lead to 28-7.
Union narrowed the gap just before halftime with a long drive culminating in a 2-yard run for the score, leaving Manti with a 28-14 halftime lead.
Manti’s final touchdown of the game happened midway through the third quarter. Facing a third down inside the 20, Union jumped offside and gave the Templars a first down at the 12. On the next play, Pogroszewski broke through the left side of the defensive line for a 12-yard touchdown run, high-stepping through the end zone in celebration.
Meacham improved on an already-impressive number in season openers as the Templars go into next week 1-0 for the 13th time in 14 seasons. They’ll be at home this Friday to take on Delta, hoping to avenge last season’s 14-7 loss to the Rabbits.