Morgan High quarterback Nick Despain throws a pass downfield as his team beats Grantsville in a rematch of the 2021 3A state championship game. (Caleb Turner, KSL.com)
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MORGAN — The KSL.com Game of the Week was a rematch of last year’s 3A state championship game in which Grantsville won 14-10. But on Friday, Morgan came out on top this time in a 38-20 win.
The two teams entered the game undefeated with a 7-0 record and fought for the top spot in the North Region of 3A.
It was a 1-point game at the halftime break with Morgan leading 14-13 due to a failed 2-point conversion by Grantsville. But the home team rattled off 24 unanswered points in the second half to take a commanding lead it never gave up.
Cowboys quarterback Hunter Bell broke off an impressive 49-yard touchdown run with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter, but by then it was far too late to mount a comeback against the home team.
“We had some struggles a little bit in the first half, as far as finishing and taking care of the football,” Morgan head coach Jared Barlow said. “So we just talked about executing and doing what we’re supposed to do.”
The Trojans scored first with a Jett Salmon rushing touchdown with 7:02 left in the first quarter, but then allowed the Cowboys to return the kickoff nearly to the end zone, if not for the last-man effort by kicker Beau Johnson to chase down the returner short of the goal line.
The Cowboys still scored but missed the 2-point conversion to make it 7-6. The Trojans followed up the kickoff mishap with a lost fumble to give the ball back to the Cowboys with 2:10 left in the first quarter.
The turnover bug hit the Cowboys, too, who fumbled a punt fake to give the Trojans prime field position on Grantsville’s 39-yard line. Gavin Turner got the first of his two touchdowns on the night on a toe-tap catch in the end zone with 11:06 left in the second quarter to make it 14-6 in favor of Morgan.
“It all comes from the offseason,” Turner said of his connection with quarterback Nick Despain. “We put in a lot of work this year and the past three years, actually, playing varsity football.”
Gabe Mouritsen ran in a 10-yard touchdown for Grantsville with 4:31 left in the first half to make it a tight 14-13 game at the break.
The Trojans came out ready to finish off the Cowboys out of the gate in the third quarter and outscored Grantsville 17-0 in the period.
“After halftime, we just regrouped,” Turner said. “We knew what we needed to fix, and we came out and fixed that and we executed on our plays. Everyone was firing on all cylinders; it was great.”
Turner had the exclamation point on both he and the Trojans’ night with a 26-yard touchdown catch with 2:48 left in the third quarter to go up 31-13.
The official back-breaker came just two minutes into the fourth quarter when Turner got a big grab to move into the red zone, and Gunnar Lish punched it in to lead 38-13 and to put the stamp on a statement win in 3A.
“We lost to them last year in the state championship, so it’s a good one to get back,” Turner said. “We’re ready to play. We’re gonna battle no matter what, and we’re ready to go win some more games.”
The Trojans will look to move to 9-0 next week at home against the Ogden Tigers, while Grantsville will look to regroup at home in a game against Union.