Trojans wallop Bear River 59-24 in home openerSep 14, 2023 10:25AM ● By Liisa London Mecham
Zak Sargent (3) carries the ball in the Trojans 59-24 victory over Bear River. Photos by Jessica Jorgensen
After a disappointing opening game loss in St. George, Morgan roared back to life and crushed Bear River 59-24 Friday, Aug. 18 in their home opener.
Coach Jared Barlow shared, “Friday was a great game to reset the season. After struggling with Crimson Cliffs, it was good to have a game where so many things were working. It gave both players and coaches some confidence.”
The first quarter started slowly with each team scoring a touchdown. Morgan struck first at the 6:03 mark with Jett Salmon scoring on a six-yard run followed by a PAT by Beau Johnson. At the end of the quarter, Bear River evened the score on a one-yard run capping a sustained drive to end the quarter 7-7.
In the second period, Morgan exploded for three unanswered touchdowns while the Bears only managed a field goal as the first half expired. Salmon tallied his second TD on the night with a one-yard jaunt at the 10-minute mark. Johnson added his second of eight PATs on the night. Just over a minute later, the Trojans’ Lincoln Gilson returned a punt 62-yards for Morgan’s third TD of the night that put them up 21-7 at the 8:14 mark. But the Trojans weren’t finished yet. Quarterback Beck Sheffield then scrambled four yards for the fourth touchdown of the evening to put Morgan up 28-7 headed into the locker room. Bear River hit a 30-yard field goal as the half ended to move within 18, 28-10.
Barlow praised his team and the work they put in during the week. “In the second quarter, we had a punt return for a TD, and our defense did a better job of getting Bear River's offense off the field. One of the biggest positives of the game was our offensive line and our ability to run the football. That was a point of emphasis in practice all week, and it was good to see the offensive line step up and make that possible.”
Assistant Coach Joe Sisson, who watched the game from Duke University where he is undergoing a stem cell transplant, shared his analysis from across the country. “On the OL side, Cooper McGiven and Luke Olsen played well. Bradley Walters, Ledger Keele, and Will Fisher had solid games, and Lane Henderson saw some time and did well filling in.”
After the break, Beau Johnson hit a 17-yard field goal, upping the score to 31-10. The Bears came back with an 80 yard TD pass from Owen Olsen to Jace Roberts. The Trojans tightened up their defense and reeled off four more touchdowns before the end of the game. In the third, Tate Nelson hauled in a 65-yard pass from Sheffield for a TD followed by Zak Sargent’s 10-yard run for another touchdown.
Gilson opened the fourth quarter catching a 63-yard pass from Sheffield to score his second touchdown of the night, and finally, in the fourth quarter, JV quarterback Cade Randall connected with Luke Bauerle on a four-yard toss to score the eighth and final touchdown of the night.
Coach Barlow was happy with his team’s defense as well as the explosive offense. “Defensively we did a lot of really good things. We had two interceptions and made a lot of good plays. Tate Nelson was instrumental in both defending the pass and the run from his safety spot. When you have a safety that can do what he did, it makes the defense so much better. We still need to clean some things up defensively and do a better job of not giving up long drives, but I thought we were better defensively than last week.”
Sisson added, “Jett Salmon and Tate Nelson had great games on D. Defensive linemen Nick Preece, Tate Steele and Treyson Rich played great up front and were all over the field making plays and disrupting their offense.”
Barlow concluded with his analysis of the progression his team made from the Crimson Cliffs loss to the Bear River victory. “Our progress from last week to this week was good. Last week we struggled offensively to run the ball and struggled getting the snap. This week we really didn't have many bad snaps, and the run game was much improved. I was really impressed offensively with our younger guys coming in and playing. They did a great job of coming in and keeping things rolling with their execution”.
Sheffield finished the game with 13-18 passes for 355. Randall threw 7-9 and 74 yards. Gilson had seven receptions for 122 yards, Sargent caught two passes for 94, and Nelson’s 62-reception stood alone. Sargent was a workhorse carrying the ball 14 times for 77 yards. Salmon added 13 yards on seven carries.
Defensively, Nelson racked up 16 tackles. Jack Despain had six while Krew Galbraith added in five. Kicker Beau Johnson added 11 points with his eight PATs and a field goal.
The Trojans travel to Smithfield for a tough matchup against SkyView. Coach Barlow shared, “We play a very good SkyView team this coming Friday and will need to continue getting better this week if we want to leave Smithfield with a win.” λ