Costly turnovers and poor run defense doomed Grand County as the Red Devils gave up 429 rushing yards and were intercepted four times en route to a 41-7 loss to the Emery Spartans on Friday in Castle Dale.
The Red Devils and Spartans played a close first quarter as Emery escaped the frame with a 6-0 lead after a 9-yard run by Jared Shakespeare.
Emery broke the game open in the second quarter, scoring four times to take a 34-0 lead into the locker rooms for half time. Bailey Faimalo scored on offense and defense in the frame, catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Marco Mota before returning an interception 40 yards for a score. Mota and David Dyer also scored rushing touchdowns for the Spartans in the second quarter.
Sophomore strong safety Ronnie Dolphin said the Red Devils were not tackling well against Emery
“We kept arm tackling and they kept running through our tackles,” he said.
Dolphin said the Red Devils had a good game plan going in, but failed to execute.
“We have to execute the game plan,” he said. “We took it easy on Emery. That’s easy to correct in practice.”
Emery coasted to victory in the second half as Grand was still unable to muster any momentum offensively. Mota scored Emery’s final points on a 12-yard run in the third quarter that started the clock running continuously because of the 35-point mercy rule.
Senior wide receiver Aaron Randall said the Red Devils weren’t mentally ready for Emery.
“Emery played a hard fought game against a good team in week one and carried over the momentum into this game,” he said. “We weren’t ready mentally to face them. We just have to forget about it and move on.”
The Red Devils finally scored shortly before the final buzzer on a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Jacob Francis to avoid the shutout.
Randall said the Spartans boasted a better defense than they had faced in Carbon the week before.
“They were flying around and making plays,” he said.
The loss gives the Red Devils a 1-1 record heading into their region opener against Kanab. The Cowboys are 2-0 after defeating North Sevier 42-6 and Desert Hills JV 55-26.
Kanab used an aerial assault to defeat Grand County 35-14 in 2011, racking up 321 passing yards. The Cowboys also jumped out to an early lead and held off the Red Devils in the second half, despite 307 rushing yards from the Red Devils.
Randall and Dolphin each said the defensive secondary is one of the strengths of this year’s Red Devil team and their confident that they can stop a prolific passing attack.
“Our defensive backs are pretty good this year,” Randall said. “We also have lots of depth and our line can create pressure up the middle.
“We just need key players to step up and make tackles.”