Turnovers, miscues cause Hawks to fall to Spartans in semifinals
By James Tilson
OREM—The North Sanpete High School football team met a familiar foe in the 3A playoff semifinals, but came away with a different result this year. The Hawks fell to the Morgan Spartans by the final score of 10-7 in a game marked by turnovers and miscues.
The Hawks scored the only offensive touchdown of the game, and held Morgan from scoring any offensive points at all. However, the Hawks gave up two costly turnovers deep in their own territory to give the Spartans all the points they needed to survive the matchup.
“A lot of turnovers, exactly what we didn’t want, but it ended up that way,” said North Sanpete Coach Rhett Bird. Not all of the turnovers were committed by North Sanpete. Morgan gave up a lost fumble and three interceptions of its own, and the Hawks appeared to have the advantage through the first half.
The Hawks scored first, taking a long, grinding possession the length of the field and using most of the first quarter clock. Morgan came right back, going the length of the field, before fumbling the ball on the Hawk 3-yard line. The Hawks tried to get out of their end of the field, but a sack and intentional grounding penalty gave the Spartans a safety.
After the first scoring drive, the Hawks went away from the rushing game that powered their offense on that drive. Bird said injuries limited his options for most of the game.
“We were moving the ball, but then our tight end went out, and our fullback went out. I didn’t know how a new kid that had never run that package would perform. So I thought it was better for us to spread the ball with the guys that had been practicing that.”
Spreading the formation meant putting more reliance on the passing game and sophomore quarterback Landon Bowles. As the season progressed, Bowles passing became better and more of a weapon. In the final regular season game against Delta, Bowles threw for 376 yards and six touchdowns.
However, against Morgan, he threw four interceptions, including one returned for Morgan’s only touchdown of the game. But Bird was quick to insist Bowles did not cause the Hawks’ loss.
“I told Landon ‘Don’t you dare go home thinking that this is all on you for throwing a couple of interceptions, because we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you,’” said Bird.
Both teams were able to move the ball offensively, but neither team could finish a drive other than the Hawks’ first touchdown. It was the defensive turnovers that doomed the Hawks, as the margin of victory was the safety and pick-six given up by the Hawks.
Bird and his team mourned the loss, but as he walked off the field, Bird looked ahead to the next year. He has built a foundation for continued success at North Sanpete. “We’ve got a great group of kids,” he said. “We just gotta get back in the weight room and get back to the grind.”