It was obvious Dutch Fork was in some sort of offensive funk with star receiver Jordan Berry on the sideline nursing an ankle injury he suffered Wednesday.
The Silver Foxes turned it over four times on their first six possessions, and normally accurate quarterback Derek Olenchuk was struggling to find a rhythm against White Knoll.
But thanks to the running of Trey Gregg and a stellar defensive effort, Dutch Fork remained unbeaten in Region 5-4A with a 28-0 victory against the Timberwolves on Friday night.
“It was a lousy offensive performance, but our defense put on a show,” Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts said. “It’s time for defense to rise, and they’re doing it at just the right time.”
While Knotts was quick to dismiss the offensive performance, he was impressed by Gregg’s game. The senior carried the ball a season-high 28 times for a season-best 186 yards and three touchdowns.
“Trey is playing hard,” Knotts said. “He deserves all the good things that are happening to him because he is a pleasure to coach. He’s done his school work, he’s done his weight room work, he’s done everything we ever asked of him.”
Not only was Berry missing from the lineup, Dutch Fork was missing five starters and 12 players. They had 10 players sitting out with concussions and two with ankle sprains.
Gregg thought it was important for him to step up on offense.
“I consider myself one of the leaders of the team, and Jordan is a big playmaker for us, so with him out, I knew I had to step up,” Gregg said. “I think I did that. I started out slow but got my mind right and followed my blockers. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
It took the Silver Foxes (6-3, 3-0) a full quarter to find their stride. Olenchuk threw interceptions on two of the first three drives and fumbled a handoff on the fourth series.
But White Knoll (6-3, 1-2) couldn’t take advantage of any of those miscues. The Timberwolves punted twice and threw a pick of their own after the Dutch Fork turnovers. Coach Gordon Walters was hoping to get the early lead and turn it over to his running game.
That never happened. With running back Lamar Ray still out with a high ankle sprain, the Timberwolves were held to 124 yards on the ground and completed one pass for 4 yards.
It was the second straight week White Knoll had been shutout.
“We never thought we would get four turnovers and not get any points,” Walters said. “We have to capitalize on that, but Dutch Fork is so well coached we couldn’t get anything against them. I liked our effort on both sides of the ball, and defensively we were pleased to slow them down a little bit, but we have to find a way to get it in the end zone.”
Dutch Fork finally got its offense going at the end of the first quarter. They converted a second-and-29 and capped the 11-play, 77-yard drive with the first of Gregg’s touchdown runs.
The Timberwolves had their best drive on the next series but fumbled at the Silver Foxes’ 32-yard line. Dutch Fork couldn’t capitalize when Freddie Poole fumbled at the White Knoll 2 after a 21-yard reception.
But after forcing a three-and-out, Dutch Fork had a short field, and Gregg punched it in on a 16-yard run to stretch the lead to 14-0 with 2:56 remaining in the half.
White Knoll was hoping to go into the break down two scores, but a poor sequence doomed that idea. The Timberwolves were whistled for a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the first play after Greggs’ second score to back them up near their 10-yard line. Delvin Riley fumbled on the next play, and Walter Roberson scooped it and ran it in from 4 yards out for the score.
That gave the Silver Foxes two scores in 27 seconds, and with the way the defense was playing, put things out of reach.
“You give up four turnovers, and you’re usually behind three of four touchdowns,” Knotts said of the first half.
“The defense bowed itself when they had too. I’m real proud of their effort and hope we can sustain it. It was nice to see them get that score right before the half to give us some cushion.”
DF – Trey Gregg 4 run (Tyler bass kick) 10:22
DF – Gregg 16 run (Bass kick) 2:56
DF – Walter Roberson 4 fumble return (Bass kick) 2:29
DF – Gregg 6 run (Bass kick) 8:38