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Leopards pounce on T-Birds

Timpview's David Jackson, left, turns from receiver to defender, but East's Sam Baldwin was still able to intercept the pass.
Timpview's David Jackson, left, turns from receiver to defender, but East's Sam Baldwin was still able to intercept the pass.
Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — East throttled Timpview 49-30 in 4A quarterfinal play Friday.

Although the Leopards and Thunderbirds entered the game ranked third and fourth, respectively, in 4A for scoring average, the game could not have featured more different offensive philosophies in East's ball-control wing-T and Timpview's quick-strike spread offense.

"We just executed (and) played assignment football," Leopards coach Aaron Whitehead said. "We didn't do anything fancy tonight. The style of offense we run, we get laughed at a little bit — it's the wing-T — but it works pretty well when you have the kids execute."

After quick starts by both teams — both squads scored touchdowns on their first two possessions — the Leopards' domination of the line of scrimmage proved the difference and turned the game in East's favor on both sides of the ball. The T-Birds could not stop the Leopards' running attack, and a constant barrage of pressure from East harassed Timpview quarterback B.J. Bateman into five interceptions.

"They couldn't stop us, man," Leopards outside linebacker Mykel Motuliki said. "When it came down to the trenches, we tore them up."

The game's pivotal moment came late in the third quarter. After being down 28-14 at the half, the T-Birds had cut the East lead to 28-21 and, with the ball inside the Leopards' 5-yard line, were threatening to tie the score.

A goal-line stand by East, however, forced Timpview to settle for a field goal; 28-24 was as close as the T-Birds would get.

"We wanted to control the ball," Whitehead said. "We felt that if we were to exploit (their defense), it would be by running the ball."

By the time East quarterback Mitch Curtis scored on a 1-yard run at the end of third quarter to make it 35-24, the Leopards had regained their swagger and momentum.

Curtis added another rushing touchdown in the fourth to stretch the lead to 42-24.

Slick ball handling and fake handoffs by Curtis and timely running from junior Jake Cook facilitated both drives for the Leopards.

Meanwhile, the Timpview offense sputtered. Bateman threw his fifth interception early in the fourth quarter, and nothing seemed to be working for the T-Birds. Both teams scored touchdowns in the final three minutes, but at that point the outcome was academic.