HYRUM — With 4:24 remaining in the first quarter, Mountain Crest ran its second offensive play against Uintah.
The Mustangs were ahead 15-0.
Such was the dominance of the Mustangs that even though they snapped the ball just nine times on offense in the first quarter, the team built a 37-0 lead. Mountain Crest averaged 18.6 yards per play (and 4.1 points per play) in the opening quarter with the shortest play being Camden Olsen’s 1-yard touchdown with 2:19 to play. They played so well that head coach Jason Lee seemed almost willing to call that 12-minute span perfect.
“Yea,” Lee said, cracking a smile when asked if his team played perfect, “there’s always things that can be better on any play, nothing’s perfect, but that’s about as good as you can play. The kids did great.”
Mountain Crest’s defense played a huge part in much of that scoring. In fact, the defense found paydirt before the offense. Uintah botched the snap on a punt, and Elijah Jackson fell on the ball as it rolled into the end zone. The defensive unit set up another touchdown when Jackson strip-sacked Utes quarterback Easton Taylor with Hunter Schroeder recovering the ball for the Mustangs. Schroeder scored on a 25-yard touchdown run the very next play for a 30-0 lead.
“We came out and played exactly how we wanted to. Strong,” Jackson said.
By the end of the first half, Uintah had negative yards rushing with its only respite on offense being a few decent passing plays. Even then, the Utes gained just 3.7 yards per play in the opening 24 minutes of the game. It was a defensive performance Lee expected in a way, saying defense, especially against the run, has been “one of our strengths all year.” Jackson said that kid of dominance is the goal.
“That’s goal number one. We want to shut down everyone, and that is the funnest thing possible,” Jackson said. “We try to come out and dominate everything.”
Offensively, the Mustangs slowed from their torrent pace in the first quarter, scoring “just” 14 points in the second to take a 51-0 halftime lead. Schroeder, who ran for at least 100 yards in every region game this season, eclipsed that mark in the first half with 111 on just four carries.
With such an enormous halftime lead, Lee began sending in his backups at the start of the third quarter. Not everyone came out at once, but the impact was felt, at least for one quarter as no one scored in the third. Uintah also began racking up passing yards, skewing Mountain Crest’s defensive stats. It also gives the Mustangs something to work on in practice.
“We need to make sure we tighten up (on that),” Lee said.
Uintah finished the game with 231 passing yards, 55 of that came on the Utes’ only touchdown of the game, a deep ball from Taylor to Rylan Spencer right over the middle midway through the fourth quarter. Though they hardly needed to, the Mustangs responded to that singular scoring play from Uintah with three fourth-quarter touchdowns. All three were scored by second or third-string players. Camden Oswald recovered a fumble in the end zone that came out of the hands of teammate Walker Hutchinson, who himself had two receiving touchdowns in the game. Oswald later took it the distance himself on a 73-yard run. And in the final minute, third-string QB Zeb Benson found Dan Bindrup. That gave the Mustangs their 71-point game.
MaxPreps has scoring data going back to 2004, in all of those seasons, the Mustangs have never scored more than 60, let alone broken 70. Friday was a display of MC’s fullest potential, a potential Lee has been confident his team possessed all year.
“We haven’t shown it the whole year, but we’re capable of some great things,” Lee said.
Mountain Crest will face Stansbury in the next round of the playoffs. The Stallions placed second in Region 10 behind top-seeded Park City. Last year, the Mustangs downed Stansbury on the road in a hard-fought 17-7 win. Jackson and Lee both talked about maintaining the momentum from Friday’s blowout win into a much tougher matchup.
“We’ve just got to keep that level of execution,” Lee said. “Stansbury’s a better team than what we just played so we’ve got to come out even harder.”
Next week’s game will kick off at 4 p.m. on Nov. 1, in Tooele.