Heading into Saturday’s 3A semifinal, Morgan’s starting defensive unit had only allowed 37 points all season in 11 games, a staggering number for sure that puts it on par historically some of the best 3A defenses ever.
Grantsville accounted for 20 of those points in an earlier 38-20 loss to Morgan, and no doubt the Cowboys believed if they could tidy up their own defense, they could hang in the playoff rematch.
That would be a big, giant NOPE.
Sure Grantsville’s defense played much better than the previous meeting, but so did Morgan, as the Trojans dominated for the 27-0 victory in a game played at Southern Utah University.
Morgan’s defense held Grantsville to just 181 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers in a convincing performance in which the Cowboys averaged just 3.0 yards per play.
“They were dialed in. The kids wanted it. It was good to see them execute,” said Morgan coach Jared Barlow. “Every time we go play Grantsville, doesn’t matter where the game is at, it’s a battle. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
With the win, Morgan advances to the 3A state championship for the fourth straight season. It won the title in 2019 but lost to Juab in 2020 and Grantsville in 2021.
Morgan’s Gunnar Lish said losing to Grantsville twice last season has been fuel for the Trojans’ tremendous undefeated success this season.
“I think a lot of it goes back to last year and losing to these guys twice. We have a lot of returning starters on this team and that was a bigger thought in a lot of our minds,” said Lish.
Morgan realistically got all the scoring it needed on Saturday just three plays into the game as Jett Salmon took a third-down Jet sweep and cut it up field for a 68-yard touchdown run just 26 seconds in.
“We talk about that a lot, being able to start fast, come out fast and put doubt in what their game plan was and try and control that a little bit,” said Barlow.
Later in the quarter, Lish scored on an 11-yard run, stretching the lead to 13-0.
That’s where the lead stayed until the 8:22 mark of the fourth quarter when Salmon finally halted the scoring drought for both teams as he took a 4th and 2 run straight up the middle for a 12-yard TD run.
Salmon finished the game with 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Lish ended with 93 yards and two touchdowns as well, as he tacked on his second of the game in the final two minutes to wrap up the scoring.
For Morgan, the shutout was its third of the season as it’s only allowed 87 points in 12 games. More impressive is the fact that Morgan’s defense has only allowed 27 total first-half points all season, with most of the points it eventually concedes coming with a running clock and a JV defense on the field late in games.