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SALT LAKE CITY — If you didn't hear Kadiyon Sweat's name, you weren't paying attention on Friday afternoon.
The senior safety for Lehi was everywhere for the Pioneers and a menace for Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris, who on the first play of the game threw a deep pass that was intercepted by Sweat. Lehi failed to capitalize on the turnover, but Sweat's day wasn't over and neither were the turnovers from Stansbury.
The Pioneers built up a convincing 35-0 lead by halftime and finished with a 42-0 win over the Stallions in the semifinal round of the 5A football state tournament at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Though a rematch of last year's semifinal game against Stansbury, the result ended the same for Lehi and the Pioneers are back in the title game as the reigning champions. The result was the same, but it was another important step to beat an undefeated Stansbury team looking to disrupt Lehi's path to back-to-back titles.
"If anything, I feel like they had more of a chip on their shoulder from an outsider's perspective to come in and beat us," Sweat said about Stansbury. "They had a great season. They were 12-0, as well, so, I mean, one of the best teams in Utah.
"For us, it was about how we have to completely let that go and know they're going to be coming. As good as we see them on film, they're gonna come out and play 10 times better. And so I feel like we did a good job of stopping them even with that."
As hard as Stansbury wanted to be in the 5A championship game, Lehi wanted it more and used its smothering defense that has allowed only 8.6 points per game throughout the season to set the tone. And to do it against a team that averaged 51.3 points was everything Lehi head coach Ed Larson wanted from his team.
"We've had some good ones, but this one was pretty good," Larson said. "It's pretty sweet. I felt before the game started that the matchup was gonna be our defense versus their offense, and I thought our defense came out and played the way they're supposed to and did a great job."
Lehi opened up the game with a three-and-out series after Sweat's initial interception, but then got the momentum rolling. And once Lehi got going, there was nothing Stansbury could do to stop that train.
On Lehi's second series of the game, quarterback Jackson Brousseau found running back Carson Gonzalez on a 24-yard toss that was then followed by a 18-yard rushing touchdown by Gonzalez to cap off a five-play, 53-yard drive to open up the team's scoring.
Sweat then picked up his second interception of the day when Harris aired out a 40-yard toss to one of his receivers down field — he almost had one on the play before but couldn't corral the ball. Sweat read the ball perfectly and picked off the pass to give Lehi another opportunity to score.
Lehi wasted no time and covered 86 yards in six plays, with Sweat being inserted into the game in the Wildcat to score a 1-yard rushing touchdown to make it a 14-0 game. Sweat's score was set up by a 24-yard toss to receiver Devaughn Eka, who was tackled on the 1-yard line.
Stansbury's next drive showed promise when Harris decided to keep the ball on four consecutive designed run plays to get the team into Lehi territory. The Stallions eventually got down to Lehi's 35-yard line, but a botched snap sailed past Harris and Lehi quickly recovered to stop any hopes of a Stansbury score.
It didn't take long for Lehi, once again, who needed just four plays to go 48 yards to score the team's third touchdown of the day — a 25-yard reception to Makafefie Havea, which was the first of his two scores. Lehi then managed two more touchdown drives in the half to maintain the shutout.
The game didn't get any easier for the Stallions in the second half with a rolling clock and Lehi found the end zone again to start the fourth quarter on a 2-yard pass from Brousseau to Mays Madsen.
"Defense played well to start the game, gave us a lot of opportunities," Brousseau said. "And then offense just found the end zone, did our job; and once you get a lead, you've just gotta keep playing well, and so that's what we did."
"Last year, we didn't have the greatest game against these guys, I'd say," Sweat said. "We came out hungry this time, like everyone said they were hungry and on social media and stuff, and we kind of kept our mouth shut. We knew who the dogs were and we came out hungry. So our entire defense and offense was fired up for this game more than ever."
Lehi returns to the championship game to defend last season's title and will play either Timpview or Orem at 2 p.m. MST at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Nov. 18.
"There's probably a lot of outside pressure, but as a team, we didn't really feel anything," Brousseau said. "We're just a bunch of high school kids playing football, so that's what it is. Just come out, have our little team rivalries or wherever it is and just go out and play football. That's all it is; it's just the game."