Noah Sewell stood in front of the west stands of Rice-Eccles Stadium and bowed Friday night as Orem students chanted his name, and then he raised his left fist in triumph to punctuate another state championship.
That was just the start of his celebration of the Tigers’ 21-7 defeat of Timpview. During a postgame KJZZ television interview, Arlene Sewell handed her son a No. 58 green jersey with a Duck logo. Sewell announced his commitment to play for Oregon as the No. 2 inside linebacker and the No. 20 overall prospect in the country, according to 247Sports.
He’ll join his brother Penei, a star offensive lineman for the Ducks as a sophomore. Another brother, Nephi, is redshirting this season as a Utah defensive back after transferring from Nevada.
So ended an adventurous night for Sewell, who made 13 tackles (two for loss) and recovered a fumble in helping Orem keep the Thunderbirds out of the end zone until the final 2:02. He lost his own fumble near the goal line late in the third quarter, but then ran 47 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-down play that gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead and secured their third straight state title in two classifications.
Orem coach Jeremy Hill said he considered punting, but “I looked over and I saw No. 2 and I said, ‘Go get me one, right here.’ He took that ball and did what No. 2 does.”
And that’s how Orem became No. 1 again. There’s more to tell, including how Sewell and his defensive teammates turned away Timpview on five possessions deep into Tiger territory. They did it via a fourth-down stop, Sewell’s recovery of a fumble forced by Paxton Skipps, Calvin Tonga’s interception in the end zone, Tauhi Tupola’s fumble recovery and Brody Monson’s second interception of the game.
The Thunderbirds produced two 100-yard rushers, Targhee Lambson and Sione Moa (who lined up mostly at quarterback in the second half). Even so, Hill was happy with his “gritty, undersized D-line that doesn’t give up.” And Timpview’s two quarterbacks combined to complete 3 of 20 passes for 20 yards with three interceptions, while being sacked three times for 19 yards.
Orem safety Joe Smith made 11 tackles and Tupola added 10 stops.
Timpview’s defense also played solidly, after allowing a 70-yard touchdown pass from Micah Fe’a to Owen Williams on the Tigers’ first possession. The score remained 7-0 late in the third quarter, when Orem’s Buju Tuisavara returned a punt 84 yards to the Timpview 5. On the Tigers’ next play, Sewell tried to stretch the ball across the goal line and fumbled, with Timpview’s Cael Richardson recovering the ball in the end zone.
Asked what happened, Sewell said good-naturedly, “I don’t really want to answer that question. I just didn’t hold the ball tight enough. It slipped out of my hand.”
Thanks to his touchdown run that followed, the fumble couldn’t spoil Sewell’s night. Regarding his college recruitment, he said, “I’m glad it’s done.”
The same is true of his high school football career, with a successful ending.