Braves football cruises past Parowan
It’s not often one can say that a football team that won a game 46-7 got off to a slow start, but that’s what happened in Coalville on Friday evening.
Though the North Summit Braves scored on a 74-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan McMichael on the first possession of the first-round 2A playoff game, they finished the first quarter with a turnover on downs and started the second quarter by throwing an interception, holding only a 6-0 lead over Parowan.
Things quickly changed for the Braves, who scored three times in the second on a two-yard pass from McMichael to Cameron Smith, a 55-yard touchdown run by Carson Richins and a 53-yard punt return from Richins to give North Summit a 26-0 lead at intermission.
Despite the explosion of points late in the first half, North Summit coach Devin Smith would have liked to see more energy from his squad, he said.
"The fact that we hadn’t played for 10 days made us a little rusty," he said. "The score was 46-7, but I felt we started off rusty in the first half not a lot of emotion or energy. Next week we’ll have to fix that or we’ll be in trouble."
Coming out of the halftime break, however, the Braves were a different team. The energy and passion were back, thanks in large part to a big defensive series from Tristan Woolstenhulme.
After a pass interference penalty against Woolstenhulme, he made a big tackle for a loss on the next play. On the play after that, he intercepted a Parowan pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Braves up 33-0.
"Tristan’s a great competitor," Smith said. "He gets that pass interference penalty and then they run that shovel pass and he makes a great hit. Then he got an interception for a touchdown that really gave us a good spark."
"I wanted to redeem myself for that [penalty]," Woolstenhulme added. "You can’t dwell on things like that. You’ve just got to focus on what you did wrong and focus on making that better on the next play."
Following a Parowan touchdown, Woolstenhulme was at it again, teaming up with McMichael for a rather unorthodox touchdown play.
McMichael bobbled the snap, letting it fall to the ground between the center’s legs. After retrieving the football, McMichael rolled out to the right, then doubled back to his left under pressure. Woolstenhulme, who had been blocking for his quarterback, released a couple yards down the field and McMichael hit him with a short pass before being taken down by the Parowan defense. Woolstenhulme then sped through the Rams’ defense for a 48-yard score.
"We’ve been working on that one all week in practice," Smith joked. "It was just a great play by both of them, really Ryan to keep the play going and Tristan to hang around and then have a good run afterward."
"You’ve just got to make the best out of every situation," Woolstenhulme said. "We never give up on a play because stuff like that can happen at any time."
Richins scored the game’s final touchdown on a 12-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Another pair of Richins, twins Braden and Mason, also had a notable impact on the game, Smith said. The two defensive linemen combined for a few sacks of the Parowan quarterback on Friday.
"Those two twins are tough," Smith said. "The good part is they’re only juniors. They’re competitors and they’re deceptively strong. They’re tall and lanky, but they’re strong and tough, too."
In addition to Woolstenhulme’s interception and the Richins twins’ quarterback sacks, Baltazar Martinez snagged two interceptions and McMichael had another in the dominant performance.
"Our defense is playing really well right now," Smith said. "But we have to continue to be opportunistic. We have to create easy drives for our offense."
That will be important in the next round of the playoffs, when the Braves hit the road to take on South Sevier. Earlier this season, North Summit hosted South Sevier and won 47-14. Smith anticipates it will be tougher to win on the opponent’s home turf.
"We’ve got to be focused," he said. "They have very good players, but we were fortunate enough to beat them the first time. Any time you play somebody twice in one season, it’s tough. We’ve got to be ready on Monday [at practice] to get after it."
"To be a championship-caliber team, we have to come out with our best on every down and every play," Woolstenhulme added. "We’re going to rally around each other and try to come out in that game with the same momentum we had toward the end of this game."
The Braves will square off against South Sevier on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m.
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