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High school football: Duchesne defeats Layton Christian Academy to win first state championship since 2016

SHARE High school football: Duchesne defeats Layton Christian Academy to win first state championship since 2016

Duchesne players celebrate their win against Layton Christian in the 1A football championship game on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Box score

Just before his grandmother passed away, Duchesne starting quarterback Parker Crum promised her that he would win a state championship for the Eagles.

So when Crum’s leg got rolled up on early in the third quarter of Saturday’s 1A state title game, the decision to attempt to play through the considerable amount of pain was a no-brainer for the sophomore signal caller.

After sitting out a couple series, Crum hit receiver Draker Goodliffe streaking up the left side of the field for what would be a game-winning 33-yard touchdown with 1:33 left in the game.

By a score of 18-14, Duchesne defeated Layton Christian Academy, claiming its first state championship since 2016 and allowing Crum to fulfill the promise he made to his grandmother.

“I told coach, ‘I want to win this,’” Crum said. “It’s been a dream ever since I was 6 years old to win a state championship, so when (Coach) Cowan asked if I was good to go I said, ‘Coach, I’m more (than) ready to go in.’”

Duchesne appeared to take control of the game early after Crum threw two touchdown passes in the opening two quarters to give his team a 12-0 lead (a pair of two-point conversion attempts failed).

But as the game wore on, LCA leveled the playing field with 12 unanswered points, including an 83-yard touchdown run by Jessaia Giatras on the opening play of the second half.

Giatras (12 carries for 147 yards and the touchdown) and fellow running back Manu Vaitaki (12 carries for 95 yards) each found more and more success as the game wore on.

In fact, it was LCA that had the more successful offensive day, outgaining Duchesne 301 to 190 in net yardage.

Despite giving up the yardage they did, Duchese’s defense got better the shorter the field got, allowing zero red zone possessions for LCA.

The unit also forced three turnovers, two of which occurred deep in their own territory.

Head coach Jerry Cowan said that the performance from his defensive unit was the reason his team ended up walking away with the trophy.

“Our defense battled and kept us in the game,” Cowan said. “They had every chance to beat us, but we just bent but didn’t break.

“That’s always the key to the game, defense. I mean, you win championships playing defense. The name of the game for us was to make it hard on them and make them earn it, and besides that long (touchdown from Giatras), we played damn good.”

The late, game-winning touchdown pass from Crum to Goodliffe was the first points Duchesne’s offense scored since the 8:36 mark in the second quarter, but the defense compensated.

Crum credited Cowan’s philosophy and system for the way the defense performed on Saturday.

“Our team philosophy is to outhit and outhustle, which is a defensive model,” Crum said. “(Duchesne) will forever, no matter the athletes, have a good defense.”

Goodliffe was all over the field for the Eagles on both sides of the ball, finishing with three catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns to go along with six tackles, two pass breakups and an interception on defense.

Though it was Goodliffe who stuffed the stat sheet, at the end of the day, the victory required contributions from every Duchesne player.

“It took all 11 (players),” Cowan said. “I’m so proud of the guys and the coaches. You know, this is a special one for us. We had been in a little (championship) drought and it truly took everyone on the team, so it feels really good.”