In the Class 4A Division I semifinal against Dutch Fork, White Knoll was the underdog.
The Timberwolves put up a gutsy fight, but Dutch Fork emerged with a 28-11 victory.
While White Knoll completed the program’s best season with a 10-4 record, Dutch Fork (11-3) heads to the state championship game for the first time in program history.
“We’ve been working toward this goal, and we weren’t going to accept anything less,” Dutch Fork Tom Knotts said. “We’ve been talking about a championship since I got here, and we’ve got a chance.”
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Trailing early, White Knoll — which was shut out in the squads’ regular-season meeting — found a few weak spots in the Dutch Fork defense.
On the first possession of the third quarter, Lamar Ray broke through the right side at the 50 yard line and rumbled 48 yards before he was dragged down near the 2. Ray completed the drive on the next play and lunged across again for a two-point conversion to cut the Timberwolves’ deficit to three.
White Knoll’s special teams set the Silver Foxes’ back to the 12 to start their next drive, and the defense held Dutch Fork to a three and out.
On second-and-12 from their 42, Timberwolves quarterback Delvin Riley completed a 30-yard pass to Blakey Craig to put White Knoll in field goal position. But after a holding penalty set the Timberwolves back to the 34, White Knoll elected to go for it on fourth-and-16, but a long pass fell incomplete.
“It would have been a pretty long field goal, and we wanted to give Julian a chance downfield. He’s been good at getting downfield this year, and we felt like we needed to give him a chance,” White Knoll coach Gordon Walters said.
White Knoll fumbled on its next possession, giving Dutch Fork control with 30 yards to go. With 23 seconds remaining in the quarter, sophomore Matt Colburn scored his third touchdown of the game — his 22nd of the season — to pad Dutch Fork’s lead at 21-11.
In the first half, White Knoll’s penalties were as much a hindrance to the Timberwolves as the Silver Fox offense.
Dutch Fork started its first drive at its 17 and picked up two quick first downs. After nine plays and less than four minutes, Matt Colburn capped the drive with a 3-yard scoring rush.
The Timberwolves overcame two fumbles on their ensuing drive, and converted a fourth-and-5 near midfield, as they pushed 47 yards. But the Silver Fox defense stopped Ray at the Dutch Fork 24 on third-and-6, and the Timberwolves settled for a Lucas Bowerman field goal.
With a chance to take the lead, White Knoll began driving at its 12 and crossed into Dutch Fork territory, but three consecutive penalties set them back to first-and-25 from their own 37. When White Knoll punted on fourth-and-12, a fourth, 15-yard penalty helped the Silver Foxes take over possession with a 55-yard field and 3:30 to go in the first half.
With 2 minutes left, Olenchuk completed a 20 yard pass to Nick Norris, and Colburn supplied a first down rush to get Dutch Fork inside the 20. Colburn’s 2-yard touchdown leap made it a two-possession game going into the break.
Colburn finished with 152 yards to lead the game, and White Knoll’s Lamar Ray had 138 yards.
“I could not be more proud of these guys,” Walters said. “We’ve overcome adversity all year. ... It’s just been a great ride.”
D: Matt Colburn 3 run (Tyler Bass kick)
W: Lucas Bowerman 41 field goal
D: Colburn 2 run (Bass kick)
W: Lamar Ray 1 run (Ray run)
D: Colburn 4 run (Bass kick)
D: Colburn 1 run (Bass kick)
Rushing — W: Lamar Ray 17-138; Quinn Jones 13-43. D: Matt Colburn 33-152.
Receiving — W: Blakey Craig 1-30; D: Jordan Berry 6-86.
Passing — W: Delvin Riley 1-4-0-30; D: Derek Olenchuk 13-18-0-148.