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High school football: Beaver beats South Summit in 2A semifinals

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Beaver was 30 seconds away from having its season end in the 2A quarterfinals last week, and now it suddenly finds itself one win away from a state championship.

Beaver dominated South Summit in the 2A semifinals at Southern University on Friday, rolling to the 35-0 victory to secure its place in next Friday’s state championship.

“The thing I relate it to is kind of like the NCAA basketball tournament where you see those NCAA tournament games where a team survives by the skin of their teeth and survives and moves on and goes on and does great things,” said Beaver coach Jon Marshall.

A week ago, underdog Summit Academy took the lead with 29 seconds remaining, but Beaver miraculously answered back on a 30-yard TD pass from Tyten Fails to Bodie Wheatley with two seconds remaining.

The good vibes clearly carried over to Friday’s semifinals, where on paper Beaver was a slight underdog to top seed South Summit.

No. 4 seed Beaver, however, never looked back after it was gift-wrapped a touchdown less than a minute into the game. It outgained South Summit by 159 yards offensively and enjoyed a plus-three edge in turnover differential.

The Beavers played all but seven seconds of the fourth quarter with a running clock after taking a 35-0 lead on a Tate Gale 39-yard touchdown reception on the opening play of the quarter.

“We believe we could win, but South Summit is a good football team, they’re very talented, they’re very deserving of being 11-0 and doing what they’ve done. But our kids believed we could beat them,” said Marshall.

Beaver will face either San Juan or Emery in the 2A championship game in St. George next Saturday. It will be the Beavers fourth straight state championship game and sixth in the past seven years.

“It’s a credit to our kids, a credit to our coaches and our community, and our kids believe they can win. You get in these big situations, it’s November, it’s cold, and not every team is prepared for that, and our kids expect to be here, they expect to be in this situation and they believe they can win and that makes a huge difference,” said Marshall.

The entire complexion of the game changed on the opening play when South Summit attempted a handoff on the kick return. It fumbled the ball, with Beaver recovering on the 8 yard line.

Beaver scored two plays later on an Ayden Bradshaw one-yard run for the early 7-0 lead.

South Summit didn’t seem rattled on its ensuing possession with a couple of big plays, but that promising second drive ended in an interception at Beaver’s 4-yard line.

The Beavers had an incredible response with a 17-play, 96-yard drive that ate 8:02 off the clock as Wheatley capped the drive on a 1-yard plunge.

“In a lot of ways that set the tone for the whole game,” said Marshall.

Beaver’s only other score of the first half was again the result of a turnover. Two plays after an interception with 1:14 left in the half, Bradshaw hauled in a 21-yard TD reception from Fails for the 21-0 halftime lead.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Beaver effectively put the game out of a reach with a methodical eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive to build a 28-0 lead.

“Our offense played phenomenal, one of our best games we’ve played all year,” said Marshall.

As good as Beaver was offensively, shutting out South Summit’s potent offense might’ve been more impressive. There were certainly question marks about how it might fair against that offense after what transpired in the quarterfinals.

“We made some adjustments defensively that worked very well for us today. Summit Academy was able to throw the ball all over the field on us and South Summit likes to do the same thing, but we were able to shut them down,” said Marshall.

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