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AFTER 1ST QUARTER, IT’S ALL RAMS - 44-26

SHARE AFTER 1ST QUARTER, IT’S ALL RAMS - 44-26

Highland suffered through quite a storm in its 44-26 5A quarterfinal victory over American Fork Friday.

The visiting Cavemen scored all of their points in a first-quarter blitz that featured 294 yards of total offense, three touchdown passes by quarterback Isaac Kelley and a 19-point lead."It was incredible. I'm not sure I've ever seen a quarter like that," said Highland coach Larry Wilson. "To be honest, I didn't know if we'd slow (Kelley) down."

The Rams, however, found ways.

"Sudden change. That's what we believe," said Highland's Morgan Scalley. "Whatever they do. We just try to strike back."

A 91-yard kickoff return by Scalley for a touchdown - sandwiched between American Fork's four scores - helped Highland weather the early barrage. The Cavemen led 26-7 after Ben Robinson scored on a 17-yard run and Kelley teamed with Toby Christensen (19 and 28 yards) and Ryan Slater (59 yards) on scoring strikes.

"I thought we had a good game plan," said American Fork coach Davis Knight. "But I thought (Highland) kind of hung around in the first half."

The Rams tightened their defense and began a run of 37 unanswered points with a late score in the first quarter. Joe Katoa rambled 69 yards for a touchdown as Highland began reducing the deficit. A fumble recovery by Kyle

Langston helped Highland end American Fork's last serious drive of the game - on the 11-yard line - early in the second quarter.

"I think that was a big play," said Knight. "(There) were just major things in the football game."

An exchange of punts ensued with Scalley returning a Caveman kick 66 yards to pull the Rams even closer before halftime.

"Special teams kept us in it," said Wilson.

American Fork led 26-21 at the intermission, but managed just 21 yards via the air in the second quarter.

"We knew we had to get some pressure on (Kelley)," said Wilson, whose team finished with four sacks and a boatload of hurries.

Defensive coordinator Frank L'Etoile said things "just snowballed" when the Rams started to apply pressure.

Chris Welch gave Highland a lead it would never surrender when he returned an interception 25 yards for a score with 8:07 left to play in the third quarter. The lead swelled to 34-26 when Katoa scored on a 1-yard run six minutes later.

The Rams added another touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter when Langston connected on a 24-yard pass to Christian Frech. Three plays and an American Fork punt later, Highland began a time-consuming drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock. The 14-play series was capped with a 26-yard field goal by Mark Pulver, who made five extra points in the contest.

"We keep finding ways," Wilson said of the reversal of fortune for the Rams.

Highland will meet Orem in the 5A semifinals Friday, noon, at Rice Stadium.