ST. GEORGE — Pine View's all-out spread attack has been very good this season. Friday evening against Hurricane, it was scary good.
The Panthers gave its punters the night off, running 54 plays for more than 600 yards en route to a 63-28 victory over the Tigers, earning Pine View a trip to the 3AA state semifinals.
"The offense, that's how it's supposed to work," said Pine View offensive coordinator Scott Anderson. "Our defense got us a couple of scores as well, so that made things easier."
Pine View actually trailed 21-13 after the second of two Kody Wilstead fumbles set the Tigers up at the Panthers' 19-yard line early in the second quarter. Jeremiah Ieremia capped the short drive with a one-yard dive for a touchdown.
But Pine View scored touchdowns on its next six possessions to turn the slight deficit into a 56-21 lead with still seven minutes to play in the third quarter.
"We didn't worry at all when we were down," Wilstead said. "We've worked really hard during our bye weeks and we knew we'd be able to score a lot of points and we also knew the defense would get some stops."
It was an astonishing flurry of points. After the Panthers tied the game with a five-play, 77-yard drive to make it 21-21 with 8:36 to play in the half, the hot scoring seemed to be settling down. Hurricane kept the ball for nearly four minutes before punting it back to the Panthers.
That's when things got a little surreal. A good punt by Ethan Stratton pinned Pine View at the 7-yard line. But just five plays and 90 seconds later, Pine View's Pano Tiatia dove in from the 1-yard line to make it 28-21. On the next play from scrimmage, Kaden Creager intercepted Hurricane quarterback Adlai Elison on a tipped ball and ran it in for six to make it 35-21 with still 2:10 to go in the half.
Hurricane tried to rally again, but a punt gave the Panthers the ball back at their own 47 with 51 seconds to go until halftime. The next play, Wilstead hit Triston Duran in stride and he sprinted into the end zone to make it 42-21.
After the intermission, Pine View stayed hot, scoring in 75 seconds on a five-play, 80-yard drive. Wilstead hit Bladen Hosner on a perfect post play to make it 49-21 and, after another Hurricane punt, the Panthers scored again. This time, it was Tiatia from 24 yards out, taking 1:46 off the clock, making it 56-21.
In a span of just eight game minutes, the Panthers covered 288 yards and scored 43 straight points.
"We knew our offense was going to roll tonight," said Pine View linebacker Thor Katoa. "We just needed to make a few plays on defense and get them the ball."
The final tallies were staggering. The Panthers had 601 yards of offense, including 421 passing. Pine View had 12 possessions in the game and scored on nine of them, with the other three ending on fumbles. Pine View went to third down just six times in the game and converted five of those (the sixth was a fumble).
The Panthers had nine plays of 20 yards or longer and averaged 11.1 yards per play in the game.
"Other teams might have panicked when they got down 21-13, but not Pine View," Dylan Draper said. "We just went to work."
Wilstead, notwithstanding the fumbles, was outstanding, completing 23 of 29 passes for 421 yards and three scores.
"That's one of the best games he's played," Anderson said. "His reads were perfect and his passes were spot on."
Wilstead didn't necessarily agree.
"I can play a lot better than that," he said. "I missed some open receivers and underthrew a couple of balls. But it was a pretty good night."
A month ago, these two teams battled with Wilstead scoring the game winner with under a minute to go for a 34-31 victory.
After a quick start Friday night for Pine View, which included a Justice Santiago pick-six on another tipped ball and a Wilstead 23-yard touchdown run, Hurricane turned things around.
Down 13-0, the Tigers scored 21 straight, set up by two Pine View fumbles and an 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by an Ieremia touchdown run of a yard. It looked like a Hurricane upset was brewing for the second straight week. But that's when the Pine View offense really got rolling.
The Panthers, 8-2, got 144 receiving yards from Colton Miller, who was playing with a broken thumb. Tiatia rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns and Hosner made the most of his three catches by going for 122 yards and a score.
Pine View advances to Thursday's 3AA semifinals and will play at 11 a.m. against Juan Diego at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Hurricane, which finished with 285 yards of offense, got the bulk of its yardage from Ieremia, who had 135 rushing yards and three scores. The Tigers end the season 2-10.
Andy Griffin is the sports editor of the southern Utah website STGNews.com
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