Battle of the Summits features upset
The locals still filled the stands despite the onslaught of sopping, cold rain.
In the 77th meeting between rival schools North and South Summit, fans waited for a close one. Murmurings throughout the stands were heard before kickoff. People said to "throw out all the records when these two teams play."
They were right.
South Summit, 2-2, capitalized on turnovers and defensively shut down the undefeated, No. 2 in state Braves en route to a 20-7 victory.
"Yeah," South Summit coach Jerry Parker said, "a statement game."
A week ago, South Summit lost to No. 1 Grand in overtime. This game and a Grand loss to Juab puts the Wildcats back into the 2A North Region title hunt.
However, the schedule doesn’t get easier. The Wildcats face Juab on Friday.
"Now we play Juab," Parker said. "We’ll play another No. 1 team."
The game seemed to be North Summit’s in the first quarter. The Braves took all of 13 seconds to score.
Junior Taylor Bates received the opening kickoff and took the ball up near the 30-yard line, hesitated for his blockers, split a couple defenders, hit a hole and sprinted for an 80-yard touchdown return. The Braves wouldn’t pass the goal line again.
North Summit continued their momentum on South Summit’s first possession. The Braves stopped South Summit’s rushing attack and tipped a pass that resulted in a North Summit interception. North Summit appeared ready to score again. They were on the Wildcats’ 39-yard line when they fumbled the ball, giving it back to South Summit and losing the opportunity to convert off the turnover.
The turnover was the first of six for the Braves. The football acted like a wet bar of soap as both teams combined for a total of nine turnovers.
The Wildcats scored off of North Summits’ second fumble. South Summit drove the ball to the 10-yard line through the power running of junior Brayden Stembridge. With 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter, junior quarterback, Conor Peterson faked to Stembridge then cut around the left side of the line and ran untouched into the end zone to tie the score.
Turnovers plagued North Summit again. The home crowd cheered when running back and senior North Summit captain Nathaniel Richins, broke through the line. With shifty moves he got the first down and fought for more yards. At the end of the run, the ball was stripped and given back to the Wildcats just before the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter, North Summit regained some composure. They stopped the Wildcats, thwarted a fake punt and drove the ball with the running of senior quarterback Cameron Garfield and a 25-yard run by junior Dallin Donaldson through key blocks provided by Richins. The Braves drove the ball to the 10-yard line. With first-and-10 and what would turn out to be the best chance for the Wildcats’ offense to score, the ball squirted out of the exchange between the quarterback and the tailback for a loss of 5 yards. The next play, South Summit senior defensive back Spencer Querry made a big defensive stop on a one-yard gain. North Summit didn’t convert on fourth down.
Following the defensive stop, Wildcats senior Cody Wall hit a big run off a misdirection play, which gained more than 20 yards. However, turnovers bit South Summit as well, the Wildcats fumbled the ball on the next play, but they regained it again as North Summit followed their fumble with one of their own.
Just before half, South Summit made a drive to the Braves’ 35-yard line as Peterson and Stembridge moved the chains on running plays. With 1:30 remaining in the half, and North Summit stalling the Wildcats’ drive, Parker called a gutsy, but smart play.
On third and long, Peterson took the snap, faked it to Stembridge, the North Summit safeties bit on the fake and Petersen hit Cody Wall wide open in the end zone to lead the Braves 14-7 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the rain let up and so did the offenses. Neither team scored in the third while the fans witnessed punting on each possession. Stembridge sat on the sidelines with a bruised thigh, but junior Marc Yost filled in at running back and moved the chains in the fourth quarter.
"Our starter goes down and the backup is the M.V.P.," Parker said. "It proves we’re more than a one-man-show."
Late in the fourth quarter, Yost took the ball, broke a few tackles and sprinted for a 55-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.
"I got the ball and just didn’t stop my legs," Yost said. "I just kept thinking ‘end zone’ the whole time.
In facing Juab this week, South Summit’s confidence is at an all-time high.
"It upped it a lot," Yost said.
South Summit will play at Juab on Friday Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. North Summit will also be on the road on Friday at Gunnison at 7 p.m.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.