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3A football championship: Late interception gives Grantsville state title over Morgan

By Patrick Carr - | Nov 13, 2021
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Grantsville's Gabe Mouritsen (5) tries to hold off Morgan's Gunner Lish during the 3A football state championship game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High's Ryker Adams runs the ball during the 3A football state championship game against Grantsville on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Grantsville's Ethan Rainer (34) and Morgan's Robby Cameron (2) leap for the football during the 3A football state championship game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High's Will Lance runs the football during the 3A football state championship game against Grantsville on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High's Robby Cameron looks in a defensive interception during the 3A football state championship game against Grantsville on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High students cheer during the 3A football state championship game against Grantsville on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High's Noah Burraston (21) pulls down Grantsville quarterback Caleb Sullivan (15) for a sack during the 3A football state championship game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan quarterback Nick Despain looks to pass during the 3A football state championship game against Grantsville on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High running back Alex Fisher (5) runs the football during the 3A football state championship game against Grantsville on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Grantsville quarterback Caleb Sullivan (15) runs as Morgan's Jaxon Larsen pursues during the 3A football state championship game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.
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Morgan High quarterback Nick Despain (4) throws against the pressure of Grantsville's Nolan Bird (56) during the 3A football state championship game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

OGDEN — Morgan High football got a second crack at the bank vault that is Grantsville’s defense in the 3A state championship game Saturday at Weber State.

And unlike their 21-7 road loss on Oct. 1, the Trojans had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to win.

But it was another defensive slugfest and, just like the Oct. 1 meeting, the Cowboys’ vault stayed locked.

Grantsville’s Ethan Rainer jumped up and intercepted Nick Despain’s deep pass in the end zone with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter, setting off the first of what would be multiple wild celebrations on the west side of the stadium.

The pick sealed Grantsville’s first football state title since 1997 with a 14-10 win over Morgan (9-4) that sent the Trojans home with the second-place trophy for the second year in a row.

At least a few thousand fans packed Stewart Stadium for the final game of a Saturday championship tripleheader.

“Well, it’s the exact atmosphere we thought it was going to be. A lot of fans, great community support,” Morgan coach Jared Barlow said. “It didn’t end up the way we wanted, but it was a fun experience to be here.”

Grantsville (10-3) was certainly known this year for its 9.2 points-per-game defense, but the Cowboys ran it down Morgan’s throat on their first drive, scoring in 11 plays and 68 yards with a Caleb Sullivan quarterback keeper.

Morgan had its fair share of chances in the first half thanks to Robby Cameron intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble.

On both ensuing drives, the Trojans went three-and-out.

Their final drive of the first half started at their own 11-yard line and when Jaxon Whiting came down with a 27-yard reception to the Grantsville 25, the clock hit zero.

Whiting finished with four catches for 56 yards. Gavin Turner had four catches for 53 yards.

Morgan’s good tidings on offense carried over to its first drive of the second half, which was a nine-play, 65-yard sprint that ended with a Will Lance touchdown run to tie the game 7-7.

“We just talked about execution (at halftime) and what we needed to do. I mean the first half, we played great, we just didn’t execute on a few plays and just told them they need to execute and play with tenacity and heart,” Barlow said.

Lance rushed for 61 yards and the Trojans as a team rushed for 125, with 126 passing yards. A lot of the run game success, oddly, came with a single-back, four-wide-receiver formation that Morgan used to great success in the semifinal win over Juab a week earlier.

Defensively, Noah Burraston made seven tackles with two tackles for loss. As a team, the Morgan defense has two sacks and five tackles for loss.

Beau Johnson kicked a 41-yard field goal — it would’ve been good from 51 — to put Morgan ahead 10-7 late in the third.

Sullivan completed another long drive for Grantsville to put the Cowboys ahead 14-10 early in the fourth after a Trojans fumble on their previous drive.

“It just came down to a couple turnovers, couple plays we didn’t make, couple plays they made. It’s what it comes down to when you’ve got two good teams,” Barlow said.

Morgan made a big defensive stop with 2:06 left in the fourth, getting a tackle-for-loss on third-and-1 and benefitting from a wide-open dropped pass on fourth down that could’ve sealed the win earlier for Grantsville.

Morgan got across midfield and to the Cowboys’ 41-yard line. Despain took a deep shot to the end zone, where Rainer ended things with the only interception Despain threw all night.

The Cowboys, whose fans stormed the field despite being told multiple times not to, got to line up in victory formation at their 20-yard line and celebrate something they’d longed for since before anyone on the team was born.

Though the drive home for Morgan was only 30 minutes compared to last year’s 5-hour trip from St. George, it was still a bitter drive with the runner-up trophy in hand instead of the state championship trophy.

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