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BYU commit Daley, defense set tone early to lead Lone Peak to 29-0 win over Pleasant Grove in 6A semifinal

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Nov 8th, 2018 @ 7:31pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Lone Peak’s offense didn’t have much to do during the Knights’ Class 6A semifinal Thursday afternoon.

It’s not for lack of trying; the Knights just took advantage of a few short fields, kept turnovers low, and took aim downfield sparingly, with a long play of just 24 yards on 54 offensive plays from scrimmage.

But that’s all they needed to do.

Davis Child scored two rushing touchdowns, and Kobe Freeman ran for 63 yards and a score to lead Lone Peak to a 29-0 win over Region 4 rival Pleasant Grove in a Class 6A state semifinal Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"Defensively, I think the scheme did a great job," Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank said. "Jake (Jensen) is a great quarterback, and Dayne (Christiansen) is great — but to shut those guys out is pretty impressive. I think the scheme was great."

The Knights (9-3) will face rival American Fork in next week's 6A championship.

Quarterback Braden Siri, who played through a separated shoulder suffered in the first quarter, threw for 60 yards and did not take a sack on the night on an afternoon when the Knights only piled up 149 yards of offense, thanks to short fields and big special-teams plays.

Pleasant Grove quarterback Jake Jensen threw for 189 yards, but took five sacks as the Viking run game was limited to 51 net yards, including 81 from star running back Christiansen.

BYU commit Michael Daley had nine tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, to go along with a blocked punt and a tipped pass that led to an interception to lead Lone Peak’s defense, which also got a 42-yard pick-six from Brock McChesney in the fourth quarter to ice the win.

Lone Peak's Keegan Nitta, left, and Nathan Ritchie dive for the ball as they try to intercept a Pleasant Grove pass during the 6A high school semifinal football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (Photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

"I think that's just effort," Daley said of the Knights’ defense. "Our defensive coordinator really drills effort into our heads. Giving 100 percent every single play, if you have 11 guys giving 100 percent on every play, then good things are going to happen."

Both teams exchanged turnovers during a scoreless first quarter. Lone Peak forced a fumble on the Vikings’ opening drive, but Pleasant Grove countered with Bridger Parker’s 28-yard interception return before a 0-0 stalemate after one.

Daley, the nephew of former BYU standout linebacker David Nixon, made the first big play for the Knights, blocking a punt and nearly forcing a safety before the clock reset on the 1-yard line. The impact play set up Child’s 1-yard touchdown plunge to give Lone Peak a 6-0 lead with 9:21 left in the half.

"Michael is just unbelievable," Brockbank said. "That’s why he's going to BYU. He makes plays. It’s not coaching — that’s just straight him."

Both teams combined for just 223 yards of offense, with Jensen accounting for 127 of them. But the Knights' defense forced the two-quarter shutout, holding Pleasant Grove to just 3-of-9 third-down conversions and scoreless in two trips to the red zone.

Kobe Freeman scored on a 4-yard TD plunge with 2:41 left in the third quarter that gave the Knights a 20-0 advantage. The score was set up by Timothy Baker’s interception return after both defenses forced back-to-back punts, but the Vikings turned over the ball on the first play of their second drive to lead to the three-score deficit.

But Thursday’s win was all about the defense — and most importantly, the shutout. The Knights set the tone on the opening drive, stripping Jensen for a fumble, and never let up when the star quarterback touched the ball.

"Turnovers change the games, and special teams change the game," Daley said. "This team really prides itself on that; every week, we have film sessions just for special teams. We just go through everything, make sure we know what our position does, and try to execute."

Jensen took five sacks on the day, and even when he got rid of the football, he took a hit or pressure on every play (often through Daley or junior linebacker Jared Fotu, who had 10 tackles and two sacks).

In addition to four interceptions and two more fumbles, the Knight defense also forced 12 tackles for loss that took 51 yards off the Vikings’ run game.

Lone Peak advanced to its first championship game since 2016, and will face local rival American Fork. The Cavemen beat the Knights 51-21 in the Region 4 meeting back on Sept. 21.

"They're a great team. They spanked us the first time — but we’re out for blood," Daley said. "We’re going to game plan for them, and let’s get it going.

"Getting a chance at your crosstown rival in the state championship — it doesn’t get much better than that."

The Knights have won six-straight games since that loss, including a historic 17-14 victory over Utah power Bingham a week after the loss.

"I don't think motivation is going to be an issue this week," Brockbank said. "I think they’ll be ready."

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Sean Walker

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Updated: Saturday November 17, 2018 9:30 pm