High school football: Enterprise edges Duchense in OT, advances to first 1A championship game since 2005

After nearly two decades, Enterprise High’s football program will finally get to experience the euphoria and excitement that surrounds a state championship week.

In a very tightly-contested 1A semifinal at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman on Friday, No. 3 seed Enterprise edged No. 2 seed Duchesne 18-12 in overtime on Brayden Gardner’s walk-off 7-yard touchdown run.

Despite these same two teams combining for 62 points in a regular season game back in Week 5 this season, the rematch was much more defensive, which played out almost exactly how Enterprise coach Andy Messersmith imagined it would.

“Duchesne is just a tremendous team. We knew it would come down to who scored last. We knew we had to just kind of stick with what we were going,” he said.

“They knew what they had to take away on us and we knew what we had to take away on them and they did a great job of doing it. We’re just lucky enough to have the ball in our hand at the end.”

With the victory, Enterprise advances to its first state championship game since 2005, a game it ultimately lost 18 years ago to Kanab 30-9.

Getting back has been a long time coming, and after coming up short in the semis last season Enterprise took care of business on Friday.

“This means a lot. These kids, this was their goal to get there and then do what we can do in the finals. It’s gonna be another battle next week, but we get to make that battle and that’s what our goal’s been,” said Messersmith.

He said defensive adjustments by both teams were the biggest reason the offenses weren’t nearly as effective as the game back on Sept. 8 when Enterprise won 34-28.

Early on though, it looked like the game could be another track meet as Duchesne opened the scoring just 34 seconds into the game on Brody Jacobs’ 59-yard touchdown run up the sideline, with the missed extra point giving the Eagles the 6-0 lead.

Enterprise could never match it though in the first half, as it totaled just four first downs with 92 yards of offense. The defense picked it up after conceding that big play though and made sure it remained 6-0 at the half.

“Our defense was huge. Defensively all around our defense was huge. We started a little bit slow but then our defense pick up and did a great job all game long,” said Messersmith.

“(Duchesne) had a lot of energy at first, but I felt like if we stuck with what we were doing we could come back.”

Ironically enough, Enterprise’ offense scored on a quick chunk play in the second half just like Duchesne did in the first half. Jaden Drake scored on a 56 yard run just 17 seconds into the third quarter to tie the game at 6-6 after another missed extra point.

Late in the third, Enterprise scored again to go up 12-6 on Kyron Bracken’s 11-yard TD run.

Bracken finished with 17 carries for 97 yards, with Drake carrying the ball 14 times for 131 yards. All but three of Enterprise’s yards came on the ground as it racked up 292 rushing yards and three passing yards.

After falling behind for the first time all game, Duchesne didn’t waste time clawing right back and tying the game as it responded with a 10-play, 61-yard drive that Jacobs capped with a 1-yard TD for his second score of the game.

The Eagles, however, missed the extra point again and the game remained tied 12-12, and neither team got inside the other team’s red zone over the final eight minutes of regulation.

Duchesne went first in overtime and moved the ball down to Enterprise’s 4-yard line, but it was stuffed there on a fourth and 1 play.

Enterprise moved quickly on its overtime possession, picking up a first down and then Gardner running in the winning TD on a third and 2 play.

With the victory, Enterprise advances to face No. 1 seed Beaver in the 1A state championship next Saturday at Southern Utah University at 1 p.m.

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