With Thursday night’s game being broadcast on KJZZ TV for the entire state to see, the Snow Canyon Warriors made sure their first region victory was a memorable one.
The Warrior defense forced six turnovers, and senior quarterback Jackson Nowatzke added three touchdowns on the ground to lead Snow Canyon (4-3, 1-2 3AA South) to a 38-23 road victory over Dixie (5-2, 2-1 3AA South).
“It feels amazing to get this win tonight,” Nowatzke said after the game. “We needed this win and to get it like this was a lot of fun. Everyone stepped up and played lights out. Now we’re looking to ride this momentum the rest of the year.”
After suffering two early season losses in region play — including a triple overtime loss to Pine View two weeks ago — the Warrior offense and defense finally came together.
“We watched film and worked hard all week on correcting our mistakes and it showed,” Snow Canyon coach Marcus Matua said. “Leading up to tonight’s game we challenged the boys and they responded. We have athletes just like everyone else, it’s just a matter of which athletes are going to step up. Fortunately for us, our guys stepped up.”
Snow Canyon’s defense made its presence known from start to finish as the Warriors forced two fumbles, with the first one occurring on the second play of the game for the Flyers.
Teagan Mendenhall, Dylan Perry and Parker Ence each came up an interception and TJ Taimi — the most valuable player of the game — had two, including an interception for a touchdown to put the Warriors up 20-7 midway through the second quarter.
Taimi jumped the route of a wide receiver screen and picks off Dixie quarterback Zak Harrah, taking it to the house.
“TJ is so special,” Matua said. “He’s everywhere both on offense and on defense.”
“TJ played one heck of a game today,” Nowatzke said. “He’s been great all year long for us and it was great to see him have an unbelievable game today.”
Not only was Taimi getting it done on defense, but put the final nail-in-the-coffin with his incredible 35-yard touchdown grab from running back Chris Poulsen.
“That was our ‘Chris special,’” Matua said. “We had a timeout and Coach Nowatzke came up and said let’s do the “Chris special.” I said let’s do it.”
After the timeout, Nowatzke hand the ball off on a reverse to Poulsen who got the defense to bite, before pulling the trigger and throwing a dart to Taimi to put the Warriros up 35-23, stealing all of the momentum back from Dixie.
“When Chris got the ball and threw it up, I know it was going to be a touchdown,” Nowatzke said.
“Chris threw a perfect pass and I just went up and got it,” Taimi said. “We played up to our potential tonight and everyone executed. When we do that, we’re tough to stop.”
Dixie outgained Snow Canyon 384 to 316, but couldn’t overcome costly penalties and six turnovers.
Flyer running back Tre Miller had 135 yards rushing and a touchdown and Jaden Harrison and Bret Barben each caught a touchdown pass in the loss.
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