HOLLADAY — After what was a closely-contested first half of high school football, the Olympus offense exploded in the third quarter, relied heavily on their run game and scored 21 unanswered points en route to a victory over Murray.
While the final outcome was a three-possession spread, both teams came out strong offensively and scored on their first drive of the game.
Trailing by just 10 points out of the halftime break, Murray looked to gain some momentum with a 56-yard kickoff return that put the Spartans in Olympus territory. Murray got down to the Olympus 5-yard line, but quarterback Kyler Nielsen threw an interception on a poorly timed pass that went to defensive back Nash Taylor, who corralled the ball with one hand.
The defensive stop was the turning point for Olympus, who pulled away from Murray in the second half to earn a 45-28 win at home.
"Nash is a sophomore and a big time playmaker for us. And for him to come up big, I am very pleased with Nash. What a play," Olympus head coach Aaron Whitehead said. "With our backs up against the wall we made a play, and I credit our defense and I credit Nash."
The Titans opened up the game with great field position as kickoff specialist Ryan Reynard returned the ball 40 yards and then exploded for another 11 yards on the first play of the drive. The drive, which last just over two minutes, was capped off with a 15-yard rushing touchdown by running back Sam Seagle, who found a seam up the middle for the score.
The quick score seemed to indicate Olympus was off to a hot start, but just two plays later Murray running back Lance Wightman sidestepped through a narrow gap and erupted for an 80-yard touchdown run where nobody could catch him.
Both teams' defense found a footing after allowing early scores and the teams traded possessions that included multiple three-and-outs and a fumble by Olympus.
Amid the defensive stops, Olympus' Seagle sustained an apparent knee injury and was forced to leave the game after a hard hit. Several plays later, the Titans settled for a field goal to take a 3-point edge over the Spartans.
Olympus stayed committed to the run game in the second quarter and Murray had no way to stop the attack. With Seagle sidelined, Isaac Hodgson and Jackson Godfrey took the majority of the reps from the backfield. Hodgson eventually took a reverse hand-off 20 yards up the left side and into the end zone for another touchdown for the Titans.
On the team's next possession, Roberts capped off a 70-yard drive on a short QB keeper up the middle for another score. Murray's defense had no answer and trailed 24-7 with just over five minutes left in the half.
But the Spartans found a rhythm behind Nielsen, who floated a pass 40 yards downfield to a diving Tyler Graham who downed the pass on the Olympus 1-yard line. One play later, Nielsen waltzed into the end zone with little resistance to close the gap 24-14 going into the halftime break.
Seagle returned to the game in the second half and instantly electrified the offense as he exploded for a 68-yard gain for another Olympus touchdown. It was a score that gave Olympus a commanding lead before scoring two more times on the night.
The Spartans managed two scores late in the fourth, but it was too little, too late.
"For the first time this year we put together a complete game," Whitehead said. "We had a couple mistakes here and there, but defensively, I felt like we were strong. All the way around offensively I was very pleased. For the first time this year, I felt that we were clicking on all cylinders and I am happy for our kids. This is a great group to work with."
Olympus improves to 3-1 on the season and will face Brighton on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. MT. Meanwhile, Murray drops to 2-2 and will play Park City Friday.