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Panthers punch ticket to semis with easy win

DRAPER — A long road trip and a star quarterback with a sore shoulder didn't do much to slow down Pine View in Friday's 3A state tournament quarterfinal game against Juan Diego.

The Panthers punched their ticket to the 3A semifinals for the fifth straight year, dominating both sides of the ball in a 49-13 win at Juan Diego.

Quarterback James Lark hadn't practiced all week for Pine View due to an injured shoulder, but the BYU-bound senior put on an offensive showcase, throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 62 yards and two scores.

"I felt well prepared," said Lark. "(The injury) just gave me more time to study film on what Juan Diego does. We came out focused and ready to play."

Lark completed his first 10 passes and the Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Pine View defense captured the momentum early when Jarron Udi picked off Corey Lever's pass on the second play of the game to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Jesse Ence.

When Juan Diego lined up to punt three plays later, the Panthers employed a special punt-blocking strategy and Dan Goold came through untouched to block the kick at the 14-yard line.

Lark threw his first touchdown on the next play on a swing pass to David Foote.

"I thought to beat Juan Diego we had to get an edge on them special teams-wise," said Pine View coach Ray Hosner. "(Goold) came through and did a great job."

The Soaring Eagle had no answer for the Panthers on offense or defense and struggled all day to find any momentum.

A 54-yard run by Mychal Robinson set up a late first-quarter touchdown run by Trevon Murphy, but 14-7 was as close as Juan Diego would get.

Pine View scored the next 21 points on a pair of touchdown runs by Lark and an 11-yard TD pass to Ence.

"It was an exciting game," said Lark. "We had a great game plan coming into the game. I wasn't sure if the road trip would bother our team at all, but I guess not."

Trailing 35-7, Juan Diego finally scored again in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run by Murphy, but Pine View answered with an 80-yard drive in five plays capped off by an 11-yard run by Ence.

Riley Diaz scored the final touchdown on a 78-yard punt return.

The Panthers will be looking for their second straight trip to the championship game when they face the winner of Morgan and Grantsville next week.

"We'll prepare well," said Hosner. "We just try to do everything we can to get a win."