In what turned out to be a defensive slugfest, the South Summit High School football team kept the dream alive as the Wildcats defeated Beaver 17-7 Friday in a 2A quarterfinal matchup in Beaver.
South Summit has won five in row and four straight since junior linebacker Porter Hancock was partially paralyzed on Oct. 7. Hancock is expected to be in attendance for Saturday's 2A semifinal in Pleasant Grove. Game time is at 11 a.m.
"We got up and then we were able to stay ahead the whole game," said South Summit head coach Jerry Parker. "We didn't play too bad, but Beaver played good, too. It was a close game."
The Wildcats jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a five-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Matt Rydalch in the first quarter and a 30-yard field goal by kicker Gavin Hatch in the second.
The Beavers responded in the third quarter as running back Boedi Lofland scored a 10-yard touchdown to cut the South Summit lead 10-7.
But Rydalch and the Wildcat offense upped the lead once again in the fourth quarter as Rydalch threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mckay DeGering to give South Summit a 17-7 lead.
Beaver had a 1st-and-goal on the South Summit 3-yard line late in the fourth quarter but the Wildcat defense was able to hold strong.
"They couldn't punch it in and then we got the ball back and were able to run the clock out," Parker said. "We stopped them. It was a defensive game. I was impressed with how they played. There was lots of hitting."
Parker was also impressed with Rydalch, who was "sicker than a dog" for much of the day.
"He threw up on the bus going, then he threw up during warm-ups," Parker said. "On our website, there's a picture of him looking for his lunch in a trash can.
"He was weak, but he did a great job of managing at the end. We needed a couple first downs and he got them."
Rydalch finished the game 10-for-14 for 160 yards and one touchdown.
Parker also singled out defensive end Sam Flinders and linebacker Jay Reidhead as key cogs in stuffing the Beavers' offense.
"I was anticipating for us to score a little more," he said. "I was impressed with Beaver. It was closer than I anticipated."
Now that South Summit (8-3) has advanced to the semifinals, the team will face Manti (9-1), a squad that stifled the Wildcats 30-12 on Sept. 23.
The Templars' lone loss came on Aug. 26 to defending 3A state champion Juan Diego.
"I think it's going to be a very tough game," Parker said. "Manti is very big and they're strong, especially up front. They outweigh us 40 to 50 pounds a man up front. With that being said, we've got to play field position and take care of football and get first downs.
"We've got to concentrate on our quickness. We've got to get to them early. First time we played them we had a lot of penalties and turnovers. By the fourth quarter, they got us."
The Wildcat may have a special guest Saturday in Pleasant Grove. Parker believes Hancock will be able to watch his team take the field in a quest for their third-straight 2A title game appearance.
"That's the talk now," he said. "They're excited about that. We had to really evaluate ourselves in our game to stay (focused). They took care of it (Saturday). It was a great team effort."
Parker said Saturday's game will be an emotional one for everyone.
"He's a pretty determined kid," he said of Hancock. "He's got to do what he's got to do to be there.
"I want (the team) to be glad he's there to watch us perform."