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High school football: Ryder Lish, Tanner Belinski the catalysts as Morgan overcomes slow start to beat Juan Diego

Morgan’s Ryder Lish (3) carries the ball for a first down during a high school football game at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.
Morgan’s Ryder Lish (3) carries the ball for a first down during a high school football game at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

Box score

DRAPER — Morgan flipped the script on Juan Diego midway through the second quarter on Friday night and momentum it rode to an easy victory to remain in the driver’s seat for the Region 13 title.

Trailing by two touchdowns after a Juan Diego strip sack touchdown, Morgan proceeded to score 28 straight points until halftime as it rolled to the 49-28 victory.

Juan Diego briefly made it a one score game midway through the fourth quarter, but the Trojans tacked on two late touchdowns to improve to 2-0 in Region 13.

Juan Diego’s defense simply never had an answer for quarterback Ryder Lish and running back Tanner Belinski.

Lish finished the game with 174 yards passing and two touchdowns while rushing for 152 more yards and two scores. Belinski finished with 185 yards and three touchdowns, including two long ones that helped break the game open in the second quarter.

Morgan coach Jared Barlow was extremely pleased with how his players reacted to the early deficit.

“We know that Juan Diego is a quality program and a good team, and knew it was going to be a battle. When bad things happen, we learn and move on,” said Barlow. “We have some great athletes and great coaches. We just focused on controlling what we can and just work. We can’t control a lot of things, but effort is what we own. Their effort was awesome.”

For Juan Diego, it was a disappointing ending after a dream start.

Juan Diego marched methodically downfield on its first two drives, with Tyler Easter and Dominic Lewis both punching in short touchdown runs, giving Juan Diego the 14-7 lead at the 9:29 mark of the second quarter.

Morgan scored on its opening drive also as Nick Despain hauled in a 17-yard TD pass from Lish, tying the game at 7-7.

However, on its second drive, Morgan’s quarterback was sacked on a third down by Dallas Larson, with Larson recovering the fumble and racing 25 yards into the end zone for the 21-7 lead over a stunned Morgan squad with eight minutes left in the half.

It didn’t take the Trojans long to recover. Three plays later, Lish raced 40 yards untouched into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 21-14.

The quick score seemed to light a fire until Morgan’s defense as well. It finally got a stop on Juan Diego’s third drive, forcing a punt after a couple of sacks.

One play later, the game was tied after a little offensive trickery from the Trojans. As Lish was about to be tackled on a roll out, he pitched the ball Belinski, who raced 82 yards into the end zone, tying the game 21-21.

Morgan was far from done.

After another Juan Diego punt, Belinski raced 62 yards on the first offensive play, giving Morgan its first lead at 28-21 with 1:19 until halftime.

The punctuation mark on the half, though, came after Morgan forced a fumble on a sack, with Lish connecting with Jimmy Savage on a 13-yard TD pass just before halftime.

With his team trailing by two touchdowns at halftime, Juan Diego’s Lewis scored on a 9-yard run cutting the deficit to 35-28 with 7:45 remaining, but Morgan recovered the onside kick and the offense quickly put the game away.