Logan’s football team won its first game of the season and in dominating fashion, handling their northern neighbors in Preston, 44-21, in the first game of the Rocky Mountain Kickoff on Thursday at Maverick Stadium.
The Grizzlies made a statement on defense early in the first quarter, sacking Preston quarterback Ty Hyde twice on their first two defensive possessions. Chris Shopbell, who finished the night with three sacks, earned his first and the first of the game on a fourth and 2 for Preston on Logan’s 25-yard line. That ended what ended up being Preston’s longest drive in terms of number of plays and time of possession.
After stumping two drives by the Indians and having one of their own drives dry up, Jaylen Sargent almost single-handedly kicked the Grizzlies’ offense into high gear. On Logan’s second drive, Ethan Wilson went deep to his top wideout on the year for a 54-yard score.
On the very next drive and following a great 22-yard setup run by Kade Thornley, Wilson again found Sargent — this time for a 37-yard touchdown on a short throw that Sargent took the distance.
Two more Grizzly touchdowns followed Sargent’s initial splurge, resulting in a 27-0 deficit for Preston by the 10:39 mark in the second quarter.
Going down by that much that quickly set the tone for the game and effectively took the Indians out of it before they could blink. But Preston head coach Eric Thorson like the spirit his team showed the remainder of the game.
“That kind of challenge tests their mental strength,” Thorson said. “And even though we got in a bit of a hole I was proud that they kept fighting.”
Preston showed its fighting spirit by responding to the four-touchdown run produced by Logan with back-to-back big-play touchdowns in the second quarter. Hyde first connected with Cole Harris for a 62-yard score, then added a 57-yard touchdown pass, this one to Scotty Dunn.
Meanwhile, Logan’s Thornley had himself a career night, with 212 rushing yards on 18 attempts with two scores on the ground.
“(Thornley) wants to get the ball, he’s been bugging me for two weeks to get him touches, so it was great to see him finally get the ball in space,” Bowen said. “He’s a dynamic runner and he’s fun to watch when he gets a crease.”
Thornley found plenty of creases throughout the game. Five times the senior back ran for 20-plus yards on a single rush, twice he gained 40-plus.
“I needed this,” Thornley said. “I’ve struggled, I haven’t been getting many yards the last two games, so I had to redeem myself this game. So that’s what I did.”
On the defensive end, Logan bullied the Preston offensive line in submission, something Bowen wanted to see coming into the game.
“We challenged them,” Bowen said. “We wanted to keep them from running the ball, I think we did a good job of that.”
Preston running back Andrew Iverson gained 103 yards on 21 carries for an efficient 4.9 yards per carry. However, 68 of those yards came either on the first, ultimately futile Preston drive or during fourth-quarter garbage time. Plus, when you add in yards lost, the Indians had just 50 net yards rushing.
Logan’s dominance of the line of scrimmage carried over to the passing game as the Grizzlies chased Hyde around all game. The Grizzlies finished with seven sacks. Shopbell had his three sacks, Andrew Thompson had a hand in three separate takedowns and Ethan Davis and Ace Kennington each tackled Hyde on a drop-back.
“Chris Shopbell came off the edge on a few blitzes and had a great, great game,” Bowen said. “Isaac Hopkins had a great game. We played some great team defense.”
Shopbell and Thompson made their plays in the backfield on defense, but Isaac Larsen made his name known in the secondary, picking off three Hyde passes, one of which he returned for six in the third quarter.
Larsen didn’t think much of his career night that featured not only the three interceptions, but also a 23-yard receiving touchdown on offense.
“Honestly, I was just having fun,” Larsen said. “That’s pretty much it, I was having a ball.”
Logan finally getting a win in the third game of the season was a culmination of three weeks of improvement, a steady climb Bowen has kept track of.
“I was telling my coaching staff, we’ve come a long way these last three weeks,” Bowen said.
For the Indians, their hopeful improvement began Thursday, it being their first game of the season. Preston is in a similar situation to the Grizzlies, who lost their opener in blowout fashion 46-7 on Aug. 16.
BOBCATS 55, RUSSETS 8
Game 2 of the Rocky Mountain Kickoff proved to be even more of a blowout than the first game. Sky View scored three times in the first quarter and kept the Russets from crossing the 50-yard line on offense.
"I thought defensively we were pretty solid all night,” SV head coach Chris Howell said. “I thought we tackled pretty well, we flew around. When you play (Wing-T offenses) it's really hard to defend the pass just in the sense that they're going to lull you to sleep and try to throw over the top."
Sky View had two defensive touchdowns, both by Jacob Zollinger. He scored the first touchdown of the game by recovering a strip-sack in the end zone, and then had a nearly identical recovery on the Shelley's 1-yard line, falling into the end zone as he scooped up the second strip-sack.
Mason Falslev accounted for five of Sky View's touchdowns, four through the air and one on the ground via a QB sneak. Walter Collins, Sky View’s running back, ran the ball effectively all night and had a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Titan Saxton caught a pair of touchdown passes from Falslev, while Trey Nyman and Scout Morris had one apiece.
"Offensively, we were able to get in a rhythm,” Howell said. “We were able to run the ball effectively and really essentially be able to do whatever we wanted."
Officials called the game early — at the 4:34 mark in the fourth quarter — due to incoming lighting. That same storm delayed the start of the game by nearly an hour.