The Lehi High School football team had just beaten Stansbury 28-14 to advance to its first 5A championship game since 2017 and all coach Ed Larson could do was talk about how much better his team needed to be if it wanted to win a title.
“I’m not happy at all with our performance,” Larson said. “But a lot of that has to do with Stansbury being ready, and we weren’t ready.”
The Pioneers beat the Stallions on Thursday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Lehi will face Springville in the 5A title game on Nov. 19 at the same venue.
Pioneers quarterback Jackson Brousseau threw three touchdown passes, and Jaxon Christiansen caught two of them. Carson Gonzalez had the team’s lone rushing TD.
The Pioneers gave up the first points of the game on Stansbury’s opening drive. But Lehi scored three straight touchdowns after Stansbury took a 7-0 lead.
“Everyone was just doing their job,” Brousseau said when asked what was working offensively for the stretch of three scores. “We had a great game plan and everyone just executed what they needed to and it worked out perfect.”
Larson, however, sang a different tune. He said that while those three drives resulted in touchdowns, the issue was the team could not sustain that.
“When you can’t succeed off it, when you can’t build off of it, then that’s what hurts you,” Larson said.
Just when it looked like the Pioneers would make easy work of the Stallions, junior receiver Dylan Hamilton caught a long touchdown pass late in the second quarter to make the score 21-14 and get Stansbury back in the game.
Christiansen caught a touchdown pass with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter to put Lehi up 28-14. Lehi stopped Stansbury from scoring on two straight drives that ended just a few yards from the end zone. That defense kept the Stallions at bay and allowed the Pioneers to secure the victory.
Stansbury was just nine yards away from a touchdown on fourth down, needing just three yards for a first down. But the quarterback threw an incomplete pass and turned the ball over on downs. A couple minutes later, the Stallions got to first-and-10 from the 10-yard line. But Lehi’s defense stifled them and forced a second consecutive turnover on downs.
Larson said he had not seen Springville play a single snap — even on film — until Thursday morning when his team saw the Red Devils in person. He added that Lehi will need to play much better in the championship game if it wants a chance of winning.
“If we show up next week like we did today, we’ll watch Springville walk off with the trophy,” Larson said.
Springville 27, Orem 26
The top-seeded Red Devils pulled off a last-second win over the Tigers to advance to the 5A championship game on Nov. 19.
Trailing by five points with just a few seconds remaining in the game, Springville junior Ryder Burton threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Walker Deede as the clock expired.
Burton threw three touchdown passes and amassed 208 passing yards. He also threw three interceptions. Senior wide receivers Brady Mortensen and Cole Clement caught a touchdown pass apiece.
Senior running back Seth Rigtrup ran in a 1-yard touchdown that cut Springville’s deficit from 12 points to just five midway through the fourth quarter.
Orem, which scored three straight touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters, was seeded No. 21 going into the tournament.
Tigers senior quarterback Chase Tuatagaloa threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Zion Saleapaga and sophomore Mack Hickson were the receivers of those passes.
Sophomore Kolton Brown and junior Cole Johnson rushed in a touchdown each for Orem.
Springville is going to the championship game for the first time since 2016. The last time the Red Devils won a state championship was 1985.