Midvale • The weather threatened Friday night’s prep football season opener between Salem Hills and Hillcrest. Though lightning didn’t delay the game, the Huskies still had to face the thunder.
Star quarterback Porter Gustin led two impressive first-half scoring drives, then sealed the victory with two long passes late in the game to lift Salem Hills to a 22-15 nonregion victory over Hillcrest.
» Salem Hills quarterback Porter Gustin passes for 194 yards and a touchdown and runs for 91 yards on 14 attempts.
» Cooper Smith returns a punt 48 yards for a touchdown to give the Skyhawks their first points of the game.
» Hillcrest QB Tanner Thompson rushes for 81 yards and a TD.
Gustin, 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, finished with 194 yards passing and 91 yards rushing on a rainy evening. He took the Skyhawks 64 yards in the second quarter, capping off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Neil Davis to take a 14-8 lead. And just before halftime, he led a 31-yard drive that resulted in a Jaxon Bowden rushing TD from the 1.
But the Huskies then seemed to contain Gustin, who was just 3-for-19 passing in the second half. However, two of those three completions were huge. One was a 50-yard catch-and-run up the middle by Cooper Smith that brought Salem Hills to the Hillcrest 12. Then, after multiple penalties that backed up the Skyhawks to the 42, Gustin connected with Davis for 32 yards.
"He said, ‘Let’s start attacking the middle of the field,’ and he was able to do that. He made two really good throws that got us down there," Salem Hills coach Joel Higginson said. "Those first downs were very clutch on that series, and hats off to Porter for making that happen."
Though the Skyhawks missed a field goal with 2:08 remaining, the Huskies were pushed far enough back that mounting a drive was going to be a challenge. Despite getting near midfield, a turnover all but gave the victory to Salem Hills.
The Huskies struck first after taking the opening kickoff deep into Salem Hills territory. A 33-yard run by Tanner Thompson and a 1-yard TD run by Ian Smith gave them an 8-0 lead just 1:18 into the game.
Hillcrest’s defense stepped up in the second half, and a 3-yard TD run by Thompson pulled his team to within 22-15.
"Our boys fought back; we shut them down in the second half," first-year Huskies coach Travis Mehlhoff said. "Tonight, we saw what we’re capable of doing. It’s a victory for us in many ways; I know the score doesn’t show it. The kids feel positive about what they did tonight, and I do as well."
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