The Grand County High School football team used a pair of timely defensive touchdowns to thwart the Millard Eagles 35-17 in the 2A quarterfinal in Moab on Friday, Oct. 27.
After a pick-six by senior Nick Downard was negated by a penalty, fellow senior Kayden Robertson snatched one of his own and returned it 56 yards to give Grand a 7-0 lead. Millard tackled Grand sophomore Bryant Troutt in the end zone for a safety to cut the score to 7-2 before the Red Devil offense responded with a Troutt 1-yard touchdown run for a halftime score of 14-2.
After an interception on fourth down ended Grand’s opening drive of the second half, sophomore Brayden Troutt blocked a Millard punt and senior Chris Thompson picked it up and ran 40 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 21-2.
“That block by Troutt was unbelievable,” Downard said, a sentiment seconded by Thompson, who added: “Big plays like that are a booster for our offense to drive down and score.”
Junior Trent Elmore added a 13-yard touchdown run late in the quarter before Millard scored its first touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Brooks Myers to Tyson Aburto for a 28-9 score. Freshman Dante Wells scored an 11-yard touchdown run and Myers hit Sam Marshall for a 44-yard Millard touchdown in the fourth quarter, followed by a two-point conversion for a final score of 35-17.
Elmore had 112 yards on 13 carries, while Bryant Troutt had 100 yards on 13 carries to lead the Red Devils offensively. Defensively Thompson had 11 tackles, while Brayden Troutt had nine tackles and three sacks. Seniors Jarett Reidhead and Jared Smith also had sacks for the Red Devils. The Red Devils handled the Millard running game, collecting 10 tackles for loss, while also putting constant pressure on Myers, who despite being sacked five times was able to scramble long enough on several plays to find openings in the passing game.
“Our defense usually stops the run pretty well,” Downard said. “We’ve got to keep the quarterback in the pocket.”
Thompson leads the team with 59 tackles, with Brayden Troutt (58), Reidhead (57) and Downard (56) not far behind. Thompson takes pride in how many tackles he has and said he wants to lead the team in the category.
“There’s a few of us who keep track of how many tackles we have,” he said. “I like to brag about how many tackles I have.”
The Red Devils (9-1) will meet the South Summit Wildcats (10-0) in the 2A semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Weber State University’s Stewart Stadium in Ogden. The Wildcats are looking to advance to the state title game for the fifth straight year, having won the first two and lost the last two, while the Red Devils are looking to make it back to the state title game for the first time since 2013, when they were beaten 42-8 by the aforementioned Wildcats. Grand has been eliminated in the quarterfinal each of the past two seasons.
Beaver (9-1) and Delta (8-2) meet in the other semifinal matchup, which also takes place on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Stewart Stadium, immediately following the Grand-South Summit contest. Beaver is the two-time defending state champion, having defeated the Wildcats in the title game each of the past two seasons.
The Wildcats rank first in 2A in scoring with 459 points, while also ranking first in points allowed with 110. Grand ranks second in both categories with 383 points scored and 119 points allowed.
“(The Wildcats) have a really good team,” Grand football coach Dennis Wells said. “They can run and they can pass. No one has come close to beating them all season.”
Wells also said, however, that he believes the Red Devils are capable of defeating the Wildcats.
“If we can get our offense clicking and control the ball, it’s the best chance we have,” he said. “We’ll get a good game plan together and see if we can execute it.”
Thompson and Downard also said they think Grand can defeat South Summit.
“We have to be disciplined with our penalties if we want to beat ’em,” Thompson said. “I think we really have a chance next week.”
Grand to play undefeated South Summit in semifinal
What: Grand County High School football versus South Summit 2A Semifinal
When: Saturday, Nov. 4, noon
Where: Stewart Stadium, 4401 Harrison Blvd., Ogden
Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for students