Spanish Fork • Playing at full strength for the first time in six weeks, the Highland offense rolled over Maple Mountain 42-20 in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Ram quarterback Anthony Smithson played in his first game since a leg injury caused him to miss half the season. He shook off a slow start to finish with 105 passing yards and one touchdown pass.
"It was great to have Smithson back. His ability to throw the ball really opens the run for us," said Highland coach Brody Benson. "It's good to have a healthy team."
Smithson was aided by running back Sione Houma, who picked up where he left off last postseason by rushing 12 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns. During last season's state title run, Houma, who has also battled injuries this season, ran for 760 yards and five touchdowns in four games.
"We worked hard in practice all week and just wanted to have another Monday with practice," said Houma, who had to switch to the No. 3 jersey after his usual No. 35 ripped in the second quarter. "The touchdowns all go to the offensive line those guys make things happen."
Maple Mountain led by quarterback K.J. Hall, who threw for 215 yards and one touchdown cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter. Tthe Golden Eagle defense had no answer for the Highland running, however, and gave up 28 unanswered points. As a team the Rams rushed for 413 yards.
"Houma really got after it tonight," said Benson. "He ran downhill most of the night, he ran through his jersey and he has run through a lot of adversity this season."
With the win Highland will move on to the second round of the state tournament for the fourth straight year.
Playing in his first game in six weeks, Highland quarterback Anthony Smithson threw for 105 yards
Running back Sione Houma ran for three touchdowns and 178 yards for the Rams, who advance to the state quarterfinals for the fourth straight year
Maple Mountain quarterback KJ Hall threw for 215 yards.