Dutch Fork proved the old adage you have to beat the champs to stake claim as one of the best teams in the state.
The second-ranked Silver Foxes overcame two weather delays that totaled 73 minutes to dominate unbeaten Westwood for a 33-3 victory Friday night at Richland District Two Stadium. The win gives Dutch Fork the Region 4-4A title.
Tyler Bass kicked four field goals and the defense added a score in the dominating performance. It was an outing that Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts has been seeking for several weeks.
“Maybe this was our wake-up call,” Knotts said. “We played awesome tonight. We didn’t dominate the line of scrimmage and get Matt (Colburn) loose like I wanted, but we played pretty well. They’re an awesome defensive front and that team will go a long ways in the playoffs but I felt like we had a lot of success on both sides of the ball.”
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Westwood (9-1, 3-1) was receiving all the accolades on defense coming in, but it was the Silver Foxes’ defense that controlled things from the outset. They got into the backfield and never allowed the Redhawks to reach the end zone.
Knotts felt it was the best defensive performance of the season.
“I thought it was awesome defense,” he said. “I thought maybe we let down at the end, but what a great game they played. They got us the ball back every time we needed it and they didn’t let them sustain any drives. They limited the big plays, so it was a nice performance by them.”
Andrew Dunlap set the tone early for the defense.
Tyler Bass gave the Silver Foxes a 3-0 lead with a 27-yard field goal before the first miscue led directly to another Dutch Fork (7-3, 4-0) score. On the second play after the field goal, Dunlap stormed into the backfield at bout the same time as the exchange between quarterback Nick Leveretter and running back Winslow Powell was happening and he was able to strip the ball away and waltzed into the end zone from 12 yards out.
“I was going for the handoff and I felt the ball coming out so I just grabbed it and ran it in,” Dunlap said.
Westwood coach Rodney Summers said that play put the Redhawks in a hole they couldn’t recover from.
“If we don’t get the strip right there, and give them a touchdown right there, it could have been different,” he said. “The defense was playing really good and we should have gone into the half down 6-3 in a worst-case scenario.
The Redhawks got on the board on a 27-yard field goal from Brandon Howard that capped a 7-play, 68-yard drive with 9:05 remaining in the half.
On the next Westwood series, Leveretter tried to connect with Adonus Lee on a deep throw but Dominique Benson intercepted it and returned it to the Redhawks 45-yard line. That set up a 30-yard field goal by Bass with 1:41 remaining in the half to give the Silvers Foxes a 13-3 lead at the break.
The Dutch Fork offense rolled up 333 total yards and got a huge play to open the second half that got things rolling. The Silver Foxes received the second half kick-off and went backwards on the first three plays of the third quarter before Tant Fant hit a streaking Alec DeBoer on an 86-yard scoring strike. DeBoer caught the ball at about his own 40 and had three defenders in hot pursuit but he reached the end zone before being caught.
“We started terribly and we ran a play we hadn’t even practiced in a couple of weeks,” Knotts said. “DeBoer just caught it and outran them. That was a big play there.”
Summers still felt he had a chance to get back into after the score but it would have been a lot easier if they could have forced a punt and got the ball in good field position early in the second half. Instead, they trailed 20-3 just over a minute into the third quarter.
“That hurt,” he said of the long scoring play. “Our guy opened up the wrong way in coverage and its something he’s learned from. We didn’t minimize the mistakes like we should have. Those guys are good. That’s why they’re the defending state champs. I don’t think we’ll see a better team than that next week or into the playoffs. I just hope this doesn’t define us next week and into the playoffs/”
Bass added field goals of 35 and 32 yards in the second half and Matt Colburn scored on a 12-yard run in the third quarter. Colburn finished with 126 yards on 26 carries. Fant was 5-for-13 for 163 yards and one score.
Dunlap said this was a statement game for Dutch Fork.
“We made a good statement,” he said. “Defense play played well, the offense was clicking. It was a good all-around game. We’ve had some naysayers and I think we finally silenced them. Now we need to focus on the playoffs and going back to state.”
DF – Tyler Bass 27 FG :52
DF – Andrew Dunlap 12 fumble return (Bass kick) :13
W – Brandon Howard 27 FG 9:05
DF – Bass 30 FG 1:41
DF – Alec DeBoer 86 pass from Tate Fant (Bass kick) 10:58
DF – Bass 36 FG 6:55
DF – Matt Colburn 12 run (Bass kick) 3:43
DF – Bass 35 FG 4:41
DF – Matt Colburn 26-126, Tate Fant 4-32, Bryson Cannon 3-12. W – Andrew Plante 20-82, Nick Leveretter 12-25, Winslow Powell 2-11, J. Trapp 8-32
DF – Fant 5-13-0-163. W – Leveretter 8-21-1-127.
DF – Colin James 3-69, Alec DeBoer 1-86, Will Sweeper 1-8. W – Adonus Lee 5-111, B. temple 2-8, Willie McConnell 1-8 .