With Desert Hills star quarterback Nick Warmsley nursing a leg injury, Marco Jordan knew he needed to have a big day in the running game.
Jordan did just that. The junior running back for 101 yards and two scores to lead the Thunder to a 21-10 region road victory over Pine View Friday night.
“We knew we needed to establish the run,” Jordan said, “because we they knew we were going to pass a lot because Nick isn’t mobile. And I took it to heart because I was in a situation to make plays.”
Jordan’s most important stretch, though, came on Desert Hills’ final drive. After Pine View trimmed Desert Hills lead to 14-10 on Connor Brooksby’s 28-yard field goal, the Thunder handed the ball off to Jordan seven straight times.
Jordan turned those seven carries into 58 yards. Jordan ran between the tackles on the series. Pine View was surely looking for another up-the-middle-run when Desert Hills coach Carl Franke called Garrick Sharp’s number on a wide receiver sweep from the Pine View 11-yard line.
Sharp sprinted to the right, turned the corner, and crossed into the end zone for the game-sealing touchdown.
“It’s huge any time you can keep the ball away from a team that can score points,” Franke said of the Thunder’s final drive.
Pine View lost its quarterback, Riley Livingston, in the third quarter to what looked to be a serious neck injury. However, Pine View administrators said he is up and moving, and has movement in his arms and legs.
The injury occurred on a fumbled snap. As the Thunder’s Cody Ricketts dove for loose ball, Livingston also dove, headfirst, at a sharp angle into Ricketts.
Livingston’s helmet crunched into shoulder pads, and the Pine View quarterback stayed motionless on the field for over 15 minutes before an ambulance whisked him away.
Franke and Pine View coach Ray Hosner gathered their teams in prayer at the 20-yard line as EMTs tended to Livingston.
When play resumed after an 18-minute delay, Jordan scored easily from two yards out to make it 14-7, but Desert Hills’ celebration was subdued, as a heaviness filled the air at a somber Panther stadium.
Perhaps sensing some spirit was lacking, the Pine View student body began chanting, “Region 9,” and the Desert Hills fans joined them.
“We’re two different teams, but we’re a region family,” Franke said, who added the incident reminded the Thunder of what happened to Nephi Sewell earlier this year.
Still, the usual feel of a high school football game didn’t return until the start of the fourth quarter when PA announcer Kelly Campbell announced that Livingston had movement in all his extremities.
Brooks Barney filled in for Livingston and played well. Barney, a gifted athlete who starred on Pine View’s state championship baseball team, had 50 yard rushing. Barney complemented Kobe Topalian, who totaled 110 yards and a score.
Pine View, though, needed some breaks to get their score. It started with Steve Bangerter pouncing on a fumbled punt. Although Pine View ended up punting after the turnover, it still flipped field position.
That field position got even better after Desert Hills went three-and-out following a holding call and Dillan Robertson’s sack pushed the Thunder to their own 6.
A shanked punt gave the Panthers the ball at the 27 where three runs by Barney took the ball to the five, but then Pine View went backwards and had to settle for Sharp’s field goal.
But it was from there that Jordan led the Thunder’s game-sealing drive.