Wow, that’s amazing. We played great as a team, and I thought we came out with great energy and played about as good as we could. – Jimmy McKeon
BOUNTIFUL — Don't let that final 31-13 score fool you, folks. Through the first three quarters of Friday night's season-opener, two words best describe Lone Peak's performance: totally dominant.
The Knights built a 24-0 lead at halftime, holding Bountiful to an astonishing minus-5 yards of total offense and one first down in the first half, and they led 31-0 midway through the third period before the Braves battled back in the final period.
In fact, the Braves didn't push their offensive yardage total into the positive side of the ledger until their second possession of the second half.
"I thought our defense played outstanding," said Lone Peak coach Mike Mower. "They played very well, and I thought we really were aggressive on defense, really flew to the ball."
When he was told about his team's staggering first-half defensive showing, senior linebacker Jimmy McKeon said, "Wow, that's amazing. We played great as a team, and I thought we came out with great energy and played about as good as we could."
McKeon's interception on Bountiful's third play from scrimmage set up the Knights' first score, and it also set the tone for the entire night. He certainly didn't want to take all the credit, though.
"That pick got us off on a good foot," he said, "but I really think everybody on the team was just hustling to the ball on every play the entire game. … We played great as a unit, and it's great to get some of those young kids a chance to play.
"Our defensive line had a great push. Our defensive tackles played great and our defensive ends just played amazing. … All of them just played with great hustle and great intensity."
Offensively, senior quarterback Dakota Hansen ran a yard for his team's first touchdown and threw a 10-yard pass to Tyler McPherson for their final TD.
In between those two scores, Jackson McChesney added a 1-yard touchdown burst of his own, David Smuin powered his way 8 yards for a TD, and Thomas Rossi drilled a 40-yard field goal to make it 24-0 at halftime.
Despite a rash of penalties, the Knights were still able to substitute freely in the second half, giving many of their backups a chance for quality playing time.
"I thought Dakota Hansen had a really good game," Mower said. "I thought he made some really good decisions at the quarterback spot, really made some good plays.
"At times we ran the ball well, we just shot ourselves in the foot a few times with penalties, but in some ways that's typical for a first ballgame. We've definitely got some things we need to clean up. We've just got to get some more consistency and we've got to clean up the penalties. Those things happen with a first ballgame, but we've got a lot of work to do. We've just got to polish it up, there were a few mental mistakes.
"Bountiful's a great program and I'll tell you what, it's been a great series we've had with them over the years," he said. "And they'll be back; that's a good program, it really is."
"It was a good opener," he said. "We started off strong, and it was really good. Bountiful's a tough atmosphere, and I thought we responded really well to it.
"From the film we saw, we thought the short, quick stuff would be open, and it was, so we just worked on that and it worked out well.
"That pick to start off the game really gave us the momentum, and it really gave the offense some energy," said Hansen.
Bountiful got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when Easton Allsop picked off a Lone Peak pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. Hunter Munk added a 6-yard scoring scamper with 6:02 remaining, but the Braves never got the ball back on offense again.
The loss spoiled the return to the head coaching ranks for Bountiful's Randy Johnson, but McKeon credited the Braves with being a tough opponent to deal with.
"It's a great way to start and we got off on the right foot," he said, "but Bountiful's a tough team and they gave it everything they had against us. They pushed us to play our best football, and I really think that was a great first game for us to get started on the season."