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SALT LAKE CITY — The Oregon Ducks are getting a star player in Noah Sewell after the senior from Orem High verbally committed to the Ducks after leading his team to a 21-7 victory in the 5A state championship over the Timpview Thunderbirds at Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday.
Sewell finished his last game in a Tiger uniform with 11 carries for 103 and one touchdown. Quarterback Micah Fe'a threw for 166 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions on 11-of-17 passing for the Tigers.
It only took the Tigers two plays to go 76 yards on their first drive of the night when Fe’a found Owen Williams on a 70-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up early in the first quarter.
The next points of the game, though, wouldn’t be scored until the Tigers broke things open in the fourth quarter after a defensive battle between the two teams.
“These boys have been resilient all year long,” said Orem head coach Jeremy Hill after the win. “We’ve dealt with coaching suspensions, injured players and everything, and the RPI, and going on the road and doing all that we’ve done, and they're battled tested. It’s a bunch of warriors, it’s a bunch of family over there, I love those boys.
"4A, 5A, 6A, all great levels, we’re thankful we were able to move up and go get one more here and show that we are one of the top teams in Utah.”
Timpview struggled all night to keep drives going, and a lot of that was due to the pressure the Tigers stacked in the box to limit the Thunderbirds from getting any successful drives together.
Late in the second quarter, the Thunderbirds were on the verge of scoring and tying it up before the half when Orem's Joe Smith intercepted a pass from Elijah Allen in the end zone to destroy the hopes of the Thunderbirds.
“We did pretty good up front,” Sewell said. “The defensive line, they really held the O-line and just let the backers and the safeties do their job.”
To start the second half, Allen fumbled the ball and Orem recovered; however, the Thunderbirds were able to put together a defensive stand and didn't allow any points to be scored in the third quarter.
Orem’s Buju Tuisavura later returned an 84-yard punt return to set up the Tigers on the 5-yard line. But Sewell fumbled in the end zone and Cael Richardson recovered for the Thurnderbirds. The return became the longest punt return in Utah High School Activities Association history to not lead to a score in a championship game.
Sewell would later give the Tigers a two-score lead on a 47-yard rushing touchdown. And on the next drive, Orem's Brody Monson intercepted a pass from Allen to give the Tigers the ball back and set them up on the 6-yard line. Orem would score on a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Cayden Viertel to put the Tigers up 21-0 with 3:14 left in the game.
Timpview made things interesting late in the fourth quarter when Sione Moa had a 12-yard rushing touchdown bring the Thunderbirds within two scores. The Thunderbirds then recovered an onside kick attempt, which was recovered by Raider Damuni for the Timpview.
But the onside kick delayed the inevitable as Moa threw an interception to Orem's Monson again to seal the victory and a 5A state championship for the Tigers.
“So fun,” Sewell said. “Just to get to make a memory with my teammates. This one will forever be, always be in my mind. Just can’t believe we did at Orem High, three peat, still kind of crazy to me.”
Carra McManamon is a native of Washington state and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22