Roy • No matter the classification, the key to winning a region football title is road wins.
And the Woods Cross Wildcats got such a win Friday night with a 17-14 win over the Roy Royals in a Region 5 showdown.
“This is a huge road win against a great team that is well-coached,” Woods Cross coach Andrew Fresques said. “These athletes and these coaches and the time they put in, this is on them.”
The Wildcats’ defense bent all night but never broke until the fourth quarter when the Royals (2-3) struck for a pair of touchdowns to cut its deficit to three. Roy’s attempt at an onside kick failed, allowing Woods Cross (4-1) to run out the clock.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Woods Cross senior quarterback Ashton Fornelius hurt Roy with both his arm and legs in the Wildcats' 17-14 win. Fornelius completed 9 of 14 passes for 114 yards, including a 60-yard pass in the third quarter to help Woods Cross build a three-score lead. He also rushed the ball seven times for 81 yards, including a pair of 5-yard runs late in the game that allowed Woods Cross to run the clock out.
The Wildcats’ defense was especially tested early in the game when Roy opened with a 20-play drive that took nearly eight minutes.
But the Royals failed to score on the drive when Roy quarterback Jaxson Dart was sacked on fourth-and-long.
“That was important,” Woods Cross senior quarterback Ashton Fornelius said. “I won’t lie. It came down to our defense.”
After the teams exchanged turnovers on the next two possessions, Fornelius guided the Wildcats on a 40-yard drive that lasted 11 plays. It ended when junior Justice Samuelu ran in from 3 yards out.
Woods Cross added a 29-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats added a big play early in the second half to build a 17-0 lead. Fornelius found senior Barry Samuelu running down the right side in toe with the Roy defender. Barry Samuelu was able to wrestle away the ball from the Roy defender and ran 40 yards for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
“I saw my best receiver and one of the best in the state in my opinion,” Fornelius said.
And it seemed as though the blowout was on.
Not so fast.
Roy countered with a 4-yard run from Trace Tupe early in the fourth to cut it to 17-7. The Royals added a 29-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes to play to trim their deficit to three.
“I was pretty mad,” Fornelius said. “But our defense didn’t break.”
Fresques expected Roy to rally.
“That’s a good team,” he said. “They were going to give us everything they had.”
Fornelius finished 9-of-14 passing for 114 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
He finished with seven carries for 81 yards, including a pair of 5-yard runs in the final seconds that helped Woods Cross run out the clock.
Tupe carried the ball 17 times for 73 yards and one touchdown for the Royals.