Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.
Lehi • On paper, the top-10 matchup between Orem and Skyridge looked like it would be a close game: both teams were undefeated coming into Friday’s game and had dominated opponents up to this point of the season.
The Skyridge Falcons took that paper and wrote a different story in the second half.
The Falcons improved to 4-0 on the season with a 36-0 victory over the Tigers.
While Skyridge’s offense wasn’t able to get things going in the first half their defense was a force. Orem only crossed midfield once in the first half and they were helped by a Skyridge punt into the wind.
Koen Erikson picked off Utah State commit Chase Tuatagaloa in the second quarter. Tuatagaloa was picked off once again the following drive and this time Jase Doman took it all the way to the house, scoring the first touchdown for either team in half.
The Orem defense kept things close. With 1:01 left in the half, Skyridge quarterback McCae Hillstead was picked off by Jaycob Amodo Tolua-olah.
At halftime, the score was 10-0. But that interception seemed to be the turning point for the Skyridge offense who made some adjustments at halftime to open things up for the team.
“Orem was dropping eight, they were getting really deep in their coverage and this was a problem for us so we had to assess it and in doing that we realized we just needed to run the ball,” Hillstead said after the game. “I took part in that, Jeter [Fenton] took part in that and we did a good job with that in the second half.”
Hillstead ripped off two large runs in the second half, the first for 66 yards and a touchdown early in third quarter, and another on the following drive for 37 more yards. When he was able to get some major gains for his team, Hillstead wasn’t focused on how far he was going to get, he was just thinking about making a big play.
“For the most part, I’m not really thinking. I’m just out there doing my thing but I don’t really know how to explain it but being who I am and making those kinds of plays I can make,” Hillstead said.
Fenton also had a touchdown after a very rush-heavy drive for the Falcons. He rushed on three consecutive plays, all for 10-plus yards until he was able to punch the ball in from eight yards out, dragging two Orem defenders with him.
Hillstead also had two passing touchdowns in the victory, one to Smith Snowden toward the tail end of the third quarter and the other to Josh Davis at the beginning of the fourth.
In the second half, the Skyridge defense was once again dominating, taking control of the Orem offensive line and getting to Tuatagaloa and company. The game was sealed when Skyridge forced a fumble with under four minutes to go, locking in the shutout of the Tigers.
This isn’t the first time this season that Skyridge has forced a shutout. The Falcons stout defense hasn’t allowed a point all season. The last time Skyridge was scored on was in their playoff loss to Lone Peak last season.
“That reliance is awesome. Just being able to depend on that because we have a ton of dogs on defense it’s great,” Hillstead said.
Both teams will now get ready for their final non-region game before heading down the stretch in equally challenging regions.
Orem will take on Desert Pines of Nevada in a neutral site game, while Skyridge will face off with a hot Timpview team who took down Bingham this week.
When asked what this Falcons team needs to do as they get ready to take on the likes of Corner Canyon, American Fork, and Lone Peak the message from Hillstead was simple:
“Go out there and take it.”