Alta football defeats Lehi in rainy season-openerAug 20, 2018 09:55AM ● By Jana Klopsch
Alta and Lehi linemen ready to do battle in the trenches.
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
There was a lot of lightning and thunder at Lehi High School’s football stadium on Friday night as the Alta Hawks defeated the Lehi Pioneers 34-20. Literally and figuratively.
The game began with perfect weather conditions; just what you’d want for an opening week rematch from last year’s contest between the two teams which Lehi won in a wild 72-66 double-overtime shootout.
However, most of the players that contributed to that shootout are long gone. Of the 1,357 total yards collectively gained by the two teams last year, 90% of those yards were gained by seniors.
Alta’s offensive leaders this year, senior quarterback Indy Hanson and senior running back Dallin Pan, collectively had 2 catches for 16 yards in the Lehi game last year as they played more limited roles. It didn’t take long for them to surpass that total this go-around.
Hanson was sharp on Alta’s opening possession, completing his first ever pass as a varsity starter and later completing a crucial first down pass on a 3rd and 20. The drive was capped off by a touchdown pass from Hanson to Pan.
From that very first drive and throughout the game, it was clear that Hanson and Pan are ready to take on their roles as senior leaders of the team.
Hanson was the team’s lightning. His confident decision making and quick release contributed to a very efficient and effective throwing night for the quarterback. He finished completing 7 of 12 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. Hanson was equally impactful with his legs, as he carried the ball 17 times for 79 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s got a great upside,” said Alta head coach Alema Te’o about Hanson’s first start. “As you could see, the guy can move with his feet and he’s got a big cannon to match.”
If Hanson was the lightning, Pan was the thunder that followed right behind. He rumbled through the Pioneer defense on his way to 211 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, Alta’s defense showed improvement from last year. Lehi’s only touchdowns in the first half came off a trick play and a short field following a turnover from the Alta offense.
“We put together a really good defensive staff. They were much improved discipline-wise and I feel like they are gelling and heading in the right direction,” said Te’o.
The most impressive sequence of the night for the defense came on a second quarter series for the Lehi offense.The Alta defense recorded a tackle for loss, forced a penalty and got to the quarterback for a sack, resulting in a 4th-and-30 for the Pioneers, backed up against their own endzone. But the defense wasn’t done there. On the ensuing punt attempt, senior linebacker Eric Folau broke through the line and blocked the kick and recovered it in the endzone for a touchdown. That score gave Alta a 20-6 lead.
A Lehi touchdown right before the half cut Alta’s lead down to one possession, and that’s when the real lightning and thunder came out. The passing thunderstorm ultimately resulted in a one hour delay before the second half was able to get underway again.
When play was eventually allowed to resume, lingering showers and harsh winds inhibited both teams’ ability to move the ball as neither team scored in the third quarter.
“The lightning delay killed us,” said Hanson.
“It was unfortunate but hey, they had to go through the same thing too,” said Te’o.
Things settled down in the 4th quarter as Alta was able to put together a sustained drive by running the football, ending with a ten-yard touchdown run on a bootleg by Hanson.
“The offensive line killed it this game,” said Hanson. “I gotta give all the credit to them. They opened up great holes, blocking really well not just for me but for all the running backs. That’s how our running game was able to keep rolling during the second half.”
On Alta’s next possession, Hanson hit senior running back Gooch Malieitulua in the flat, who turned the corner and took it all the way to the house, putting Alta up 34-13.
A late Lehi touchdown and recovered onside kick made things a little interesting, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Alta defense stepped up and shut down the Pioneer comeback attempt.
“I feel like our kids played hard. It was exactly what I expected from our guys. There’s still a few things we have to clean up,” said Te’o following the game.
Next week Alta heads north for a matchup with Woods Cross, who defeated Maple Mountain 35-25 in their season-opener.
Full game photo gallery here.
You can follow Justin (@Justin_Journal) on Twitter for Alta football coverage throughout the season.