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High school football: Defense, special teams propel Lone Peak past Skyridge for 6A semifinal win

SHARE High school football: Defense, special teams propel Lone Peak past Skyridge for 6A semifinal win
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Skyridge vs. Lone Peak in the 6A semifinal football game in Eagle Mountain on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — After a middling first half in the bitter cold, Lone Peak’s dominant defensive lineman John Henry Daley rose up like he has so many times for the Knights this season — blocking a Skyridge punt one-handed.

“It felt like a brick but whatever works,” Daley said.

Lone Peak surged in a strong second half of semifinal 6A football, besting Skyridge for the second time this season 28-24 to set up a title game rematch with Region 4 rival Corner Canyon.

“At halftime, our backs were against the wall and we said, ‘Hey, go out and make a difference. One series make a difference.’ We came out and got a stop, blocked a punt and that’s what shifted the momentum for us.” — Lone Peak defensive coordinator Ryan Denney

“At halftime, our backs were against the wall and we said, ‘Hey, go out and make a difference. One series make a difference,’” said Lone Peak defensive coordinator Ryan Denney, who assumed the role of sideline head coach after Bart Brockbank tested positive for COVID-19. “We came out and got a stop, blocked a punt and that’s what shifted the momentum for us.”

Skyridge opened the scoring after a high punt snap from Lone Peak left the Falcons with a short field. McCae Hillstead capitalized with a 6-yard strike to Mitch Adamson for a 7-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter.

Lone Peak answered immediately with a couple of chunk passes from quarterback Jonah Heimuli, capped with a 27-yard lob to Luke Tucker to tie the game at 7-7.

After trading punts, Hillstead and running back Jeter Fenton took turns powering the Skyridge offense on a nearly six-minute and 13-play drive that Fenton finished off with a 3-yard scoring dive to make it 14-7 with 4:49 left in the opening half.

  • Watch replay: Lone Peak 28, Skyridge 24

Skyridge kicker Braden Buck tacked on a 23-yard field goal to give Skyridge a 17-7 lead at halftime.

After Daley’s block, Lone Peak was set up with a short field and Luke Durfey capitalized with a 6-yard rumbling score to cut into Skyridge’s lead.

Lone Peak’s defense came up big again with a Kao Hansen fumble return to tee up another Durfey 1-yard dive to take over the lead, 21-17 with 2:37 left in the third quarter.

“They set us up inside the 10 and we just ran that ball in,” Durfey said. “We knew we could get a couple of yards every play and we scored those touchdowns.”

Hillstead wasn’t finished yet, finding his favorite target on the night James Palmer for a big gain before hitting Palmer again with a perfectly placed 35-yard rainbow strike to take back the lead 24-21 with 6:34 left in the game.

But the cushion evaporated immediately as Lone Peak scored the go-ahead touchdown on a Hansen punt return right up the middle of the field for a 94-yard score.

“(It was) the first one we could return and once again, talk about momentum,” Denney said. “They had the lead, the game’s in their favor and we flipped it that quick. Really a turning point for us.”

After falling to Corner Canyon in their lone loss of the season, 35-25, Daley said he’s expecting a heavyweight fight in the championship rematch.

“It’s going to be a dogfight. They’re a great team, we’re a great team and we both want it,” Daley said. “We’re going to get their best shot and they’re going to get ours.”