SALT LAKE CITY —
A battle between the top two teams in Utah's 4A classification was expected to be a high-scoring physical match-up.
But as snow started falling at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, it was Timpview (Provo, Utah)
that brought their best game.
The Thunderbirds made a close first half into a blowout, scoring 19 unanswered second-half points against one of the state's best defenses for a 32-14 win over East (Salt Lake City)
. With the win, Timpview reaches its first final since 2009, when it completed a string of four straight championships.
Expect the Thunderbirds to continue that tradition.
"It was pretty fun to me, hope it's like that next week," quarterback
said. "We talked about last year we were a bunch of little boys last year playing against men. … This year, we're physical, we're running fast. We're playing like men."
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Thunderbirds' effort in the blizzard was the passing game. Lloyd starred in the win, throwing four touchdown passes and 266 yards. He also scored on a short run in the second quarter.
Five different receivers caught passes on the day, as Lloyd went 17-for-24. The main threat was Dax Raymond
, who caught seven passes for 101 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But even when Raymond was jammed up at the line, Lloyd scrambled well to get to other receivers, such as Rhett Van Leeuwen
who finished with 87 yards and a score.
"Jake played amazing: He's the best quarterback in Utah if not more," Raymond said. "He's so poised. I was impressed out how he did in a big stadium today."
East piled up 161 rushing yards, but helped Timpview in plenty of ways. The biggest contribution: turnovers.
"The Leopards, which have one of the highest-scoring offenses in the state, were uncharacteristically unable to hold onto the ball. They lost four fumbles and threw an interception, helping the Thunderbirds keep possession.
Although Ula Tulutau
and Niel Robbins
scored for the Leopards, East was shut out in the second half. Overall, the Timpview defense finished with a pair of sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Isaiah Holloway got the pick.
East got a few shots in on Lloyd, sacking him three times. But the turnovers combined with the offensive efficiency was a death knell for the Leopards.
It made up for a somewhat slippery first quarter, when Timpview started off on the wrong foot by fumbling the opening kickoff. Although East took the initial 7-0 lead, Timpview responded with 13 points afterward.
It's the kind of response the coaching staff has come to expect from a team that has overcome losing a head coach and forfeiting games from the last two seasons in the past year.
"These are a great bunch of kids, they're very resilient," coach Cary Whittingham said. "They're very tough, they're very confident — they know they can win these games — but they're a very humble bunch."