clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

High school football: Stansbury finds a spark to rally past rival Tooele and into Region 7 lead

Stansbury players celebrate
Stansbury players celebrate after winning a high school football game against Tooele at Stansbury High School in Stansbury Park on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Since Stansbury High School opened in 2009, its top rival has always been pretty obvious.

Stansbury and Tooele are located less than eight miles apart in the Tooele Valley and, this year, the Buffaloes came into Stansbury’s stadium undefeated and were the Region 7 leader at the season’s halfway point.

Still, Stansbury couldn’t find a spark for a long time. Finally, Dylan Hamilton snagged a pass from quarterback Ezra Harris, bobbled it several times, and then gathered it to his chest and ran for his team’s first score. That was the inspiration the Stallions needed to rally past the Buffaloes 29-14 and take over the top spot in the standings.

Harris rushed for two touchdowns and Nate Bushnell had one as Stansbury beat Tooele for the sixth straight time and took a 10-3 lead in the series. The teams have played every year and Stallions coach Eric Alder said many players and fans judge each season based on the outcome of this game.

“It’s always a big one, and they were 5-0,” Alder said. “We just needed that one spark to get us going. That first half was terrible, but once we got going we didn’t stop. It’s a credit to these players.”

Tooele scored on its opening possession and eventually led 14-0 at halftime, but the Buffaloes didn’t even earn a first down after that.

“It felt like two different games,” Alder said.

Bridger Thomas replaced Harris at quarterback in the third quarter, but Stansbury’s first possession didn’t go anywhere. On their second drive, facing a 1st-and-10 at his own 35-yard line, Harris finally found Hamilton open in the middle of the field and fired a perfect pass. The ball struck Hamilton in his hands, but bounced around several times, including once off his helmet, before Hamilton gathered the ball in stride and outraced the Tooele secondary for the score.

As the home crowd celebrated for the first time, the Stallions then faked the extra point and Harris completed another pass for the two-point conversion.

There was nothing to cheer about on the Tooele side of the field for the rest of the night.

Tooele quarterback Payton Sprouse, who threw for 105 yards and a score in the first half, was 3-11 for minus-3 yards after that, and the Buffaloes running attack netted zero yards.

Tooele ran 21 second-half plays, and those snaps also included two holding penalties, a pass interception and two punts.

Running back Mateaki Helu, who carried seven times for 51 yards at half, had two rushes for two yards after that.

“And we weren’t doing anything different,” said Alder.

“We were just more fired up,” added Hamilton. “Once we had the momentum, we had a different attitude on offense and defense.”

Harris played a big part, completing 7 of 9 passes in the second half, but he was also helped by running back Nathan Bushnell, who ran for 230 yards - almost all in the second half - and his lengthy runs helped Stansbury score on four straight possessions, and keep the ball out of Tooele’s hands.

With the win, the Stallions improved to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in region. They also keep bragging rights in the county. Tooele fell to 5-1 and 3-1 and must try to regroup after allowing more than 14 points in a game for the first time this season.