SALT LAKE CITY — There was little opposition in the way of Noah Sewell and the Orem Tigers rolling over Salem Hills 51-14 in the 5A semifinal matchup Thursday.
Sewell, the state’s top Division I prospect and five-star recruit, scored two first-half rushing touchdowns and added a 46-yard scoring run in the second half for the hat trick to give the Tigers a commanding lead over the Skyhawks.
The projected Oregon commit finished the day to lead the Tigers with 154 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. He added five tackles, including one tackle for loss, on the defensive side of the ball as a linebacker, which is where he’s expected to play at the next level.
"You know, when you've got a kid like that you can — it doesn't matter, we can put him in on any 11 spots on offense or defense, and he's getting go out there and be an All American, which just is what it is," Orem head coach Jeremy Hill said. "Noah definitely gives us an advantage in any game we're in."
Orem came into the game as the No. 12 seed in the Utah High School Athletic Association's new RPI model, which served as motivation for the Tigers in the playoffs to make a statement. And against the No. 1-seeded team in Salem Hills in the semifinals matchup, it was an opportunity to show Orem was ready for the jump to 5A.
"I mean, I'm going to be honest with, we've hung twelves in the locker room, we've talked about being the 12 seed," Hill said. "Wherever you start, it doesn't matter as much as where you are next week, that's all that's mattered to us."
"It really means a lot because I feel like we're a little bit underrated in the RPI, but it is what it is," Sewell said. "We're still gonna do our game — just come out with a win."
The Tigers started off the game hot with an opening drive score on a screen pass to senior receiver Buju Tuisuvura, who escaped a few tackles for a 65-yard touchdown. Orem scored four minutes later when Sewell scored his first rushing touchdown of the day to take early control of a game where Salem Hills was outmatched from the opening kickoff.
It wasn’t all perfect for the Tigers, though, who turned the ball over twice in the first half, including a fumble on their 16-yard line that Salem Hills recovered to set up the Skyhawks’ first score of the game. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Salem Hill quarterback Austin Hallows hit Jarret Elmer on a 16-yard fade route touchdown pass to the left corner of the end zone.
But the solitary score of the first half from the Skyhawks wasn’t enough to cut into Orem’s already dominant performance and the Tigers answered back with quarterback Micah Fe’a finding Jaxon Williams for a 9-yard passing touchdown to extend Orem’s lead.
Orem’s scoring onslaught continued in the second half with a 3-minute opening drive capped off by Fe’a connecting with Brinton Paulson for a 7-yard touchdown. The Tigers would add 17 more points in the second half to advance to the 5A title game, a year after claiming their second-straight 4A title in a 60-13 win over Dixie.
Fe’a finished the day throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-14 passing. The Tigers’ leading receivers was Williams, who finished with 87 receiving yards on four catches.
The Skyhawks managed one more score in the game, a 93-yard kickoff return by Tanner Rogers with just under six minutes left in the third quarter. Rogers broke through the first line of defense and used his speed to burn past remaining defenders for the score.
Orem will face Timpview in the 5A title game Friday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be streamed at live.ksl.com.