Duchesne clinched a spot in its fifth title game in the past six seasons with a 32-18 win over Milford in the 1A state semifinals on Friday.
The Eagles picked up the win by controlling the ball and with timely plays from all three phases of the game.
Quarterback Parker Crum managed the game well and threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, including an 80-yarder to Draker Goodliffe. Crum also converted all four two-point conversions he faced.
“Parker has been consistent for us all season. He is able to make plays with his arm and legs. Our offense is built for his style of play,” said Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan.
Milford battled back with a dominant second quarter, however. A field goal followed up by a Blake Barnes touchdown cut the lead to six points, and then after getting another stop, the Tigers were driving with a chance to take the lead before halftime.
However, they were never able to get the passing game rolling as the Eagles front seven continuously put pressure on Bo Hardy with just a four-man rush. Dusty Clayburn came up with a strip sack that Branon Torgerson scooped and scored from 42 yards out, growing the lead to 24-10 at halftime despite Barnes rushing for 128 yards in the first half.
“Our defensive line played a big part,” Cowan said. “We felt we could get after the quarterback with a four man rush, but it also gave Milford an opportunity to run the ball on us and they did a good job of that. Give Milford credit for controlling the clock and making us work. We felt we could bend but not break on defense and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
Duchesne controlled the entire second half from the opening kickoff, when Garrett Fabrizio returned the kick 92 yards for a touchdown. That would be the last points the Eagles scored in the game, but long, methodical drives took time off the clock while the defense continued its way to five forced turnovers.
In the end, the timely plays were too much to overcome for Milford.
“The kick return was something the kids asked to do,” Cowan said. “We had a good wall set up on the sideline and Garrett out ran everyone to score. At the time I felt like we had a good lead and could relax a bit. Milford kept fighting and we could never really pull completely away. Turnovers were obviously the key to the game and give Milford credit for keeping it close despite the mistakes.”
The Eagles have lost their last three championship games but will look to win their third title in the last decade when they take on the sixth-seeded Layton Christian Academy next Saturday at Weber State University.