PROVO — The North Sanpete Hawks came to the Wasatch Front with several hundred fans Saturday afternoon looking for something they don’t have at home — a state football championship.
The Hawks returned home a step closer.
In coach Rhett Bird’s third year, the Hawks extended their season to the title game following a 23-15 victory over the Morgan Trojans in a 3A semifinal battle at Provo High School.
Connor Jorgensen rushed for two touchdowns and Ashton Osborne returned an interception 25 yards for a score as the Hawks took advantage of four first-half turnovers and continued the remarkable story of a team that finished 0-10 last season to make it past the semifinals for the first time. With the win, North Sanpete improved to 7-4 overall and moves on to play Summit Academy next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Weber State University.
“(We’ve) never made it this far,” said Bird, a 2012 North Sanpete graduate whose teams only reached the postseason once during his playing time there. “We told the players we needed to win the turnover margin and then score when we had our chances.”
Ironically, Morgan took a 7-0 lead when Jordan Storey recovered a Hawks fumbled snap at the 1-yard line, and the Trojans scored on the next play. It would be a while until they would cheer again, though, as Jorgensen scored on a 51-yard run, and then a series of injuries and Morgan turnovers kept momentum on the North Sanpete sidelines.
Osborne stepped in front of a Carter Thackeray pass and returned it to the end zone to give the Hawks the lead, then Payton Clawson corralled a pass at Morgan’s 15-yard line, which led to Jorgensen’s second scoring run.
Morgan returned the favor to stop a North Sanpete drive, but Cesar Lemus got another pick to end the Trojans’ threat just before halftime. Since the Hawks gave up an average of less than 14 points per game this season while earning a second-place finish in 3A’s South Division, it appeared the Trojans would need something extraordinary to pierce defensive coordinator Dave Peck’s defense.
“They were more physical, and we just didn’t seem to match their intensity,” said Morgan coach Kovi Christiansen. “They’re tough, and we knew we had to be strong to match theirs.”
Morgan couldn’t muster much until Kyle Carter got behind the defense and caught a 60-yard scoring pass from Thackeray with 2:32 left in the game. By that time, North Sanpete had added a field goal, and, once the Hawks recovered the ensuing onside kick, it was obvious a miracle wasn’t going to happen for the 3A North champions, who were looking for their first state title since 1997.
Source:: Deseret News – Top stories