SMITHFIELD — It was like two different games.
Or perhaps even three.
Sky View scored the first 35 points of the game to open the 2020 football season Friday night at Bobcat Field. Visiting Stansbury then put up 27 unanswered points. Neither team could score in the fourth quarter as both teams came up with big defensive stops.
The start was enough for the 4A defending state champion Bobcats to begin a new season with a 35-27 victory. It is the 13th win in a row for Sky View.
“Our kids haven’t been in a dogfight like that in a while,” SV head coach Chris Howell said. “Our kids did a good job battling. It didn’t look pretty, and we made a thousand mistakes. Now we need to figure them out and fix them.”
Sky View made enough plays down the stretch to stop the surging Stallions and run the clock out.
“We started coasting in the second quarter, and we just got to keep the first-quarter intensity up,” said Bobcat running back/linebacker Walter Collins, who rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries, and made some big tackles in the fourth quarter. “... These seniors are special. We are going to be good this year.”
A year ago on the road, Sky View scored late to beat Stansbury in the 2019 opener, 27-20. It was somewhat similar in that the Bobcats scored three times to take a 13-0 lead, but Stansbury rallied.
“They (Stallions) are a really good team, and they answered the bell,” Howell said. “Credit to Stansbury. But I thought in the fourth quarter our defense got some key stops and did some big things.”
Friday night couldn’t have started any better for the hosts. Collins returned the opening kickoff 37 yards, and the Bobcat offense went to work. Sky View marched 61 yards on 15 plays, converting three third-down plays and scoring on a fourth-and-goal. Kason Carlsen rolled out and found Luke Radford in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown toss five minutes into the game.
It would be the first of three TD passes to start the game for Carlsen, who finished with 236 yards through the air on 22 of 37 attempts. He completed a pass to 10 different teammates.
“There was a lot of good in that first quarter,” Howell said. “... We will get better. The important thing is to learn and grow.”
Stansbury went for it on fourth-and-two near midfield on its first possession. Cole Watterson broke up a pass attempt, and the Bobcat offense was back on the field.
Carlsen found Isaac Larsen streaking down the sidelines for a 48-yard TD strike. It was Larsen’s first score in a Bobcat uniform as he moved to Smithfield after playing the past two seasons at Logan.
Sky View’s offense was back in business again one play later as the Stallions fumbled the ball away. Bobcat Blake Bishop caused the fumble, and Kimball Jackson recovered the loose pigskin at the Stansbury 20. Three plays later, Carlsen hooked up with Samuel Thatcher for a 17-yard score and a 21-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
It got uglier for the visitors.
After exchanging punts, the Bobcats nearly got a safety. On the next play, Larsen stepped in front of a Stallion pass and made it a pick-six with a 15-yard return. Sky View took a 28-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Bobcats capped their scoring with a 1-yard plunge by Collins on a third-and-goal play. The TD gave the hosts a 35-0 lead with 3:24 left in the opening half.
“In the first quarter we were just firing on all cylinders,” Collins said. “That’s what we are supposed to do. ... We just wake up in the morning and piss excellence, that’s what we do.”
Then it was Stansbury’s turn to put up some points.
The Stallions had a measly 18 yards of total offense late in the first half, but was able to put together a 80-yard drive to paydirt. Nathan Bushnell scored the first of three TDs on a 5-yard run up the gut.
Sky View took a 35-7 lead into the break.
But it was more Stansbury in the third quarter. Bushnell caught a 8-yard TD pass from Kru Huxford, and three minutes later took a pitch and scored from seven yards out to pull the Stallions within 35-20 with 3:44 left in the third.
A fake punt helped set up a 37-yard pass from Huxford to Cayden Clark at the end of the third as the pressure mounted for the Bobcats.
“Maybe our kids relaxed a little bit,” Howell said.
The Bobcats had several chances to add to their lead, but missed field goals from 47 and 52 yards out in the fourth quarter kept the contest close.
“Even though we didn’t put points on the board, we took time off the clock,” Howell said. “We were able to switch field position, which helped as well.”
The Sky View defense came up big with sacks by Evan Hall and Thor Griffin.
“We are a second half team, that’s just what we do,” Collins said. “We need to be a four-quarter team.”
BOBCATS 35, STALLIONS 27
Friday at Smithfield
Stansbury 0 7 20 0 — 27
Sky View 28 7 0 0 — 35
SV — Luke Radford 2 pass from Kason Carlsen (Kasen Erickson kick), 7:10
SV — Isaac Larsen 48 pass from Carlsen (Erickson kick), 6:14
SV — Samuel Thatcher 17 pass from Carlsen (Erickson kick), 5:18
SV — Larsen 15 interception return (Erickson kick), 0:14
SV — Walter Collins 1 run (Erickson kick), 3:24
S — Nathan Bushnell 5 run (Kolton Loertscher kick), 1:35
S — Bushnell 8 pass from Kru Huxford (Loertscher kick), 6:57
S — Bushnell 7 run (kick failed), 3:49
S — Cayden Clark 37 pass from Huxford (Loertscher kick), 1:14