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Wasatch shuts out Grantsville

HEBER CITY — One half into its postseason rematch with Grantsville, Wasatch was not a happy football team. Sure, the Wasps held the lead. But they succeeded in killing much of their momentum through a series of ill-timed penalties.

Before everyone returned to the field, the coaches made it clear the second half needed to be different.

"We got screamed at good in the locker room," said quarterback Taylor Woodruff. "They challenged us not to get any penalties."

In the second half, the Wasps finally eliminated those mistakes. They also eliminated the Cowboy offense, shutting down Grantsville 27-0 on Friday afternoon in the first round of the 3A playoffs.

Of all the impressive numbers Wasatch put on the scoreboard, none stood out more than a pair of zeroes. The Wasps allowed zero points, of course. But they also yielded zero yards of total offense in the second half — and 77 for the game — including a tally of minus 20 yards in the third quarter after sacking Cowboys quarterback Logan Paulich three times.

Such statistics only further validate a defense that ranked first among 3A schools in points allowed for most of the season.

"That's what we go for is our shutouts," Woodruff said. "Shutouts '07 — that's what we call it."

Woodruff made the most of the opportunities his defense provided him. The senior completed 13 of 23 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. His first — a 4-yarder to Ben Gardner — came after Wasatch snuffed out a fake punt to get the ball at the Grantsville 36-yard line and put the Wasps up 10-0 with 8:57 left in the second quarter.

The second scoring strike, a 52-yard bomb to Ethan Smith for a 27-0 lead less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, was simply an exclamation point to one of his strongest games of the season.

Fellow senior Jake Salazar, who gained 126 yards and added a touchdown on 25 carries, said Woodruff gives the offense a second dimension.

"Having a run game and a passing game is huge because they don't know where you're going to come from," Salazar said. "Things just open up everywhere." He's a great asset to have."

Wasatch took a 13-0 halftime lead, aided by Matt Wheatley's pair of field goals. But it could have been much larger. The Wasps had one second quarter touchdown pass called back because of a holding penalty. And a personal foul penalty nullified a Wasatch fumble recovery on Grantsville's ensuing drive.

Wasps coach Steve North said those sort of mistakes are unacceptable if his team wants to survive in the postseason.

"It could have been worse than it was," North said. "We've got to quit (getting) penalties. That's huge. The second half we got better. But the first half we shot ourselves in the foot."