On Friday night, the Thunder showed they have a shootout capability by winning 41-38 over the Dixie High Flyers.
Desert Hills (3-0 region) ultimately weathered an early Dixie onslaught going down 17-0 in the first quarter and were down as much as 31-14 three minutes into the third quarter.
However, the Thunder would not allow Dixie to shovel dirt on them, and exploded for 27 unanswered points in a little over eight and a half minutes that spanned from mid-third quarter to three minutes into the fourth.
Desert Hills’ running back Mike Needham (13 rushes, 85 yards) put on a gutty performance. Needham suffered a shoulder injury early and was on the sidelines until the second half. He would not be an uninvolved player in the second half.
After Thunder quarterback Porter Harris threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Colton Kenney and ran for a 42-yard touchdown to make the score 31-27 Dixie, Needham put on an Emmitt Smith type of performance.
The Desert Hills’ defense forced the Flyers to punt and the offense took possession on their own 27 with a 1:55 remaining in the third.
Needham’s number was called three times on an eight-play 73-yard touchdown drive. It was the first Thunder lead of the game, 37 and a half minutes had elapsed in the game.
The senior back had rushes of nine yards, 12, and a 13-yard touchdown run to cap the drive. His injury was so significant; he could not play at his usual linebacker spot, but he had enough in him to help his team win.
“I’m glad that Dixie ran up on us in the first half,” Needham said. “We haven’t experienced that and I think we need to learn how to deal with that adversity.”
Asked if was playing with extensive pain, he shared, “When I was getting up from being tackled, I was thinking ‘Ouch.’”
“But I wanted to be out there, so I headed back to the huddle and wanted another play. You don’t feel it when the play is happening.”
He was inspiring and receiver Ty Rutledge said the team noticed his willingness to play.
“Oh, he’s got heart,” Rutledge said. “I was amazed. He came out there and played, he couldn’t even lift his arm. He ran hard and showed leadership. That’s what we thrive on in this family.”
With the 34-31 lead in hand, Desert Hills was not satisfied. The defense forced another Dixie punt and the offense got great field position starting at the Flyers 45. Needham rushed for four yards on the first play. Then Harris, who played extraordinary for the Thunder (19 rushes for 155 yards, and went 12 of 20 passing for another 216 yards) threw a screen pass out to Rutledge two yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Rutledge made the catch and a Flyer cornerback was closing.
“Porter threw it out to me and the corner came up real quick and surprised me,” Rutledge said. “He didn’t come up with the hardest hit.”
Rutledge dumped the attempted tackle, and took off down the field for the 41-yard touchdown to put Desert Hills up by 10: 41-31.
Dixie took the kickoff and began on its 37. The Flyers marched 73 yards on 11 plays and scored when quarterback Blake Barney connected with Tallen Tipton on a 7-yard touchdown pass making the score 41-38 Desert Hills.
The Thunder took possession on the 20 with 5:21 left. After converting one first down and three plays, Desert Hills had a fourth and inches on Dixie’s 43-yard line. Coach Jake Nelson elected to go for the first down rather than allowing Barney and the Flyers’ offense a shot with two minutes remaining.
Harris ran a quarterback dive, converting the first down and the Thunder controlled the rest of the way. Converting one more first down and Dixie exhausting its last two timeouts, Desert Hills enjoyed setting into the victory formation on two plays to close the game.
The Thunder offense played maybe its best game of the season. As a team, they rushed 42 times for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Desert Hills converted four of nine third down attempts and two of three fourth down tries. They piled up 484 yards on 61 plays.
“Our offensive linemen are doing such a great job,” Needham said. “They are the story to our doing well.”
Besides Porter Harris and Mike Needham’s outstanding play for Desert Hills, Rutledge caught three receptions for 78 yards (one td) and Josh Anderson had five receptions for 43 yards.
Linebacker Peter Brown registered 12 tackles (8 solo) and one sack. Safety Bud Pope had seven tackles in leading the Desert Hills defense.
For Dixie: Barney finished going 19 of 39 for 209 (four touchdowns) and rushed 15 times for another 66 yards and one touchdown.
Tallen Tipton caught five passes for 43 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Hansen hauled in five receptions for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Lukas Hildebrandt had six receptions for 96 yards.
Taylor Berry led the defense with 10 tackles and Jesse Lambert had eight.
Dixie 17 – 7 – 7 – 7 < 38
Desert Hills 0 – 14 – 13 – 14 < 41
D < Barney 7 run (Barker kick)
D < Tipton 13 pass Barney (Barker kick)
D < Barker 37 FG
DH < Harris 23 run (Alegria kick)
DH < Lund 29 pass Harris (Alegria kick)
D < Hansen 10 pass Barney (Barker kick)
D < Hansen 5 pass Barney (Barker kick)
DH < Kenney 34 pass Harris (Alegria kick)
DH < Harris 42 run (kick failed)
DH < Needham 12 run (Alegria kick)
DH < Rutledge 41 pass Harris (Alegria kick)
D < Tipton 7 pass Barney (Barker kick)
REGION 9 STANDINGS:
Hurricane 3-0 (6-0 overall)
Desert Hills 3-0 (5-1)
Snow Canyon 1-1 (2-3)
Cedar 1-1 (1-4)
Dixie 1-2 (4-2)
Canyon View 0-2 (2-3)
Pine View 0-3 (2-4)
Questions or comments: E-mail: email@example.com