DRAPER — It didn't matter that Juan Diego had carved out a perfect regular-season record or sported the stingiest scoring defense in 3A. The Soaring Eagle knew they had plenty to prove going in against Logan.
The defending 3A champion Grizzlies were favored in their quest to claim a third state title in four years. Juan Diego was looking to avoid a fourth straight 3A quarterfinal exit.
Few people outside the Soaring Eagle football program could see such a wish turning into reality.
"Nobody thought we could win this game," running back Tyler Morales said. "But I know my team and how hard we practice. We can take anybody."
Morales made sure Juan Diego kept its dream season alive. He rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries to lead the Soaring Eagle to a 28-21 victory on Friday evening.
For Juan Diego, it marked the team's 12th straight victory and its first semifinal appearance since 2004. Now a semifinal game against Park City awaits the Soaring Eagle next Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The big night from Morales helped offset a strong second-half performance by Logan quarterback Jeff Manning. He threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns in the final two quarters. Manning finished with 277 yards total, while completing 15-of-27 passes.
Morales gave a huge chunk of credit to his offensive line, which kept the Grizzlies linemen on their heels throughout much of the game. With the holes they created for him and the rest of the backfield, Logan didn't have a chance of containing the Soaring Eagle running game.
"When we get fired up," Morales said. "Nobody can touch us."
Juan Diego dominated just as much at different times on the defensive side of the ball. The Soaring Eagle held Logan to 10 yards of total offense in the first quarter and allowed only 84 by halftime.
In the meantime, quarterback Brian May scored on a 4-yard keeper and Morales plunged through the line for a two-yard score to put Juan Diego up 13-7 at halftime.
The Soaring Eagle then took their largest lead at 21-7 when Morales busted loose for a 22-yard scamper into the end zone on the team's opening drive of the second half.
Logan continued struggling to gain a consistent offensive rhythm during the second half. After Manning found Stephen Gwynn for a 15-yard pass to cut it to 21-14 with five minutes left in the third, the Grizzlies coughed up fumbles on back-to-back drives spanning the third and fourth quarters.
The Soaring Eagle, meanwhile, kept things humming. They took a 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter after Morales took the ball in from three yards out for his third touchdown of the night with 23 seconds left in the third.
Juan Diego coach John Colosimo ranks the victory over Logan as one of the finest moments in the history of the football program. But he understands that plenty of work remains before the team can dream of championship trophies.
"Now I've got to convince them that wasn't the state championship game," Colosimo said. "There's still some good teams left, and we know that this thing is still up for grabs for whoever is left."