The Grand County High School football team took advantage of a turnover-prone North Sevier squad, scoring 42 first-quarter points on their way to a 62-0 victory in their homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 18, in Moab.
The Red Devils are now 3-2, 1-0 in 2A South play, maintaining their No. 5 ranking in 2A from the Deseret News.
The North Sevier misfortune started the first possession of the game as the Wolves’ was forced to dive on top of a bad snap on fourth down deep in Grand’s territory. Three plays later, Red Devil senior Dalton McElhaney scored the first of his four touchdowns on the night, punching it in from two yards out. He also ran in for the two-point conversion, giving Grand an 8-0 lead. McElhaney finished with 12 carries for 157 yards. McElhaney is tied with South Summit’s Isaac Tillett for the 2A lead with 11 rushing touchdowns for the season. His 584 yards ranks second, 11 yards behind Tillett.
Just 21 seconds after the first score of the game, Grand junior Kayden Cresswell ran an interception back 28 yards for a touchdown, which, followed by an extra point from Grand senior Joseph Shumway, gave the Red Devils a 15-0 lead. The Wolves fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Shumway recovered it, leading to a 32-yard touchdown run from McElhaney on the next play, putting Grand up 22-0.
The Wolves fumbled two plays into their following drive and Grand sophomore Josh Jones recovered the ball. On the Red Devils’ next play, McElhaney found fellow senior Brendan Bennett for a 36-yard touchdown pass, followed by a missed extra point, leaving Grand up 28-0. After the Wolves again fumbled on second down, this time recovered by sophomore Gage Hansen, senior Brandon Secrest took direct snap on third down for a 10-yard score, giving the Red Devils a 35-0 advantage.
The Wolves continued their second-down woes on the next drive as Bennett collected an interception, leading four plays later to a 13-yard touchdown run from McElhaney, giving the Red Devils a 42-0 shortly before the end of the first quarter.
The Wolves punted after a three-and-out on their following drive and McElhaney scored again from 11 yards out early in the second quarter, putting Grand up 49-0. The Wolves put an extended drive together before eventually punting, then Grand junior Nolan Beeman scored from four yards out right before halftime, giving the Red Devils a 56-0 lead at intermission.
With 62 points as a final tally within for the Red Devils, a final tally Wells has shot for since 2013, but had yet to achieve, the Red Devils left their first-team offense in the game to begin the second half. However, the Wolves forced Grand to punt on its first drive of the second half. The Red Devils continued to struggle on their next drive before McElhaney converted a third-and-long play. McElhaney later converted a fourth down on the drive, which finally culminated in a 9-yard touchdown pass from McElhaney to senior Seth Holyoak. The Red Devils took a knee on the extra-point attempt, leaving their score at 62 points in honor of Sam Woodruff, a former Red Devil football player who died in August of 2013, right before his sophomore season was to begin. Woodruff would have been a senior this year.
Bennett, one of the emotional leaders of the team, said there was no other way he’d rather have his senior homecoming game turn out.
“The game was really easy in the first half; we knew we’d have a tougher time scoring in the second half,” he said. “It means that much more that it was hard fought battle for that 62.”
Following the score, the Wolves hit several long passes on the Red Devils’ second-team defense before the first-teamers came back in to preserve the shutout. On the final play of the game, Cresswell intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone, keeping a zero on the visitor section of the scoreboard.
“It was one of those games that as a coach, it didn’t matter what play you called, the team executed,” Wells said. “There were huge holes in the running game.”
“The defense also did a good job,” he said. “(The Wolves) have a good scrambling quarterback, but our defense was all over him. Last week we got in trouble with our (defensive backs) letting receivers behind them, but this week they kept ’em in front and were in all the passing lanes.”
The Red Devils are scheduled to play the San Juan Broncos in their homecoming game in Blanding on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. The Broncos (3-2, 1-0) are ranked No. 3 in the Deseret News after defeating South Sevier 52-12 on Friday, Sept. 18. The Broncos defeated Grand 47-7 in Moab in 2014, but the Red Devils defeated the Broncos 30-9 in their last trip to Blanding in 2013.
Bennett said he’s looking forward to the challenge of facing arch rival San Juan.
“We’re going to go hard, game plan like we did for North Sevier, and hopefully we’ll come out on top on Friday,” he said.
Wells said coming out on top of San Juan in Blanding will not be an easy task.
“(The Broncos) are a team that’s never going to roll over,” Wells said. “If we’re in the fourth quarter with a chance to win, that’s all we can ask for.”
Red Devils take a knee at 62 points to honor fallen teammate
“The game was really easy in the first half; we knew we’d have a tougher time scoring in the second half. It means that much more that it was hard fought battle for that 62.”