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Wolverines prevail in a 'head-knocker'

WEST VALLEY CITY — Muka Atiga took command for Hunter, racking up 192 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries as he led the Wolverines to a 19-13 victory over West Jordan in Region 3 action here Friday.

"We tried to shoot ourselves in the foot," said Hunter head coach Wes Wilcken. "It was a real head-knocker and our defense really pulled through."

Hunter's defense proved it deserved the game ball as the Wolverines held West Jordan scoreless in the second half. The statistic held solid even though Hunter allowed the Jaguars to start three third-quarter drives inside Wolverines' territory.

After Hunter gave up a 36-yard touchdown pass from Cache Morgan to DJ Tialavea on the Jaguars' opening drive, Dominic Perry danced 96 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff return to tie the score at 6-6.

An Atiga 10-yard touchdown run that capped a 10-play, 79-yard drive put the Wolverines up 13-6, but West Jordan was able to answer before halftime.

Starting at its own 17, Hunter looked to be in the middle of another impressive drive. The Wolverines advanced the ball and picked up three first downs. Quarterback Adam Christensen misfired on a pass attempt and Nicholas Strong picked it off and returned it to midfield to set up the tying score.

The Jaguars went 50 yards in eight plays as Morgan once again hit Tialavea — this time from 21 yards out with just under two minutes to play — as the teams went to the locker rooms tied at 13-13.

After a scoreless third quarter, Atiga found the end zone on a 29-yard scamper to put Hunter up 19-13 with 9:59 to play in the fourth. A bad snap on the PAT attempt prompted a desperation heave to the end zone that came up short and the Hunter lead remained 6.

Hunter forced the Jaguars to turn the ball over on downs with four minutes to play. With the ball deep inside West Jordan territory, the Wolverines simply needed to run out the clock.

Atiga took off to his left and found a hole, but the ball was stripped and recovered by Justin Blackmore at the Jaguars' 24 with just under two minutes to play.

Morgan connected with Cody Fidel on passes of 18 and 30 yards to move the ball into Hunter territory. But on his third pass attempt of the drive, Morgan threw an interception to Tavo Ekuasi at the 12 and Hunter held on to win.

"These are the kinds of mistakes we've made all year," Wilcken said, adding it was nice to come away with a win despite the fumbles. "I don't know how it happens because we work on ball security so much."

"West Jordan played a great game and they probably deserved to win it just as much as we did," Wilcken said. "We were just fortunate enough to come away with the win."