CEDAR CITY — Morgan coach Jared Barlow knew Grantsville would probably make some significant adjustments heading into Friday’s 3A semifinal after his team shut out the Cowboys in the regular season finale.
Sure enough, Grantsville’s defense came out in a new front and blitzed numerous times to create as much confusion as possible for the favored Trojans.
It worked for a while, but after a quarter, Morgan figured out what it needed to do.
“That’s what I love about this team. We make really good adjustments and we’ll fight through it,” said Trojans quarterback Ryder Lish, whose team scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to pull away for the 28-0 win at Southern Utah University.
Lish carried the ball 20 times for 80 yards and three touchdowns while only attempting nine passes on the windy evening to lead his team to next Saturday’s 3A state championship game against Juab.
“The biggest thing that Ryder is, he’s a competitor and he likes to compete. We’d like him to run out of bounds a few more times, but that’s the competitor in him,” said Barlow.
While it took Morgan’s offense a bit to get going — the Trojans were only up 7-0 at the half — the defense was outstanding again from the opening kickoff.
Morgan has now shut out three of its past four opponents, including a 35-0 win over Grantsville back in Week 10.
The defense held Grantsville to just 127 yards of total offense, and only 15 yards in the first half with zero first downs. It picked off Grantsville’s quarterback twice, with Tanner Stanley returning one of those 60 yards for a touchdown with 6:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving his team the 28-0 lead.
“It came down to our defense. The defense played really well and did everything they needed to do,” said Barlow.
- Watch replay: Morgan 28, Grantsville 0
Grantsville’s defense was equally as good early, forcing Morgan into punts on its opening two possessions of the game.
On Morgan’s third drive, it finally started to string some plays together after great starting field position when Grantsville was forced to punt into the stiff wind. Morgan only needed to drive 37 yards for that opening score, with Lish punching it in from the 1-yard line.
“They came out in a defensive front than they’ve been doing so it took a minute to get used to what they were doing and understand what they were doing,” said Barlow. “We’ve got a lot of good athletes and eventually one of them is going to break something.”
Morgan started to pull away in the third quarter, and it began with good field position again after another short Grantsville punt.
With 6:36 left in the third quarter, Lish broke numerous tackles as he marched into the end zone from 33 yards out for the 14-0 lead.
He added another 1-yard score on the final play of the third quarter to make it 21-0.
“In the second half we just came out, we made our adjustments,” Lish said. “We knew what we needed to do, and we just kind of settled in and played how we always play.”