ST. GEORGE — After falling in two state title games in a three-year span from 2015-17, the Morgan Trojans were finally able to shelve those second-place awards for a state championship trophy for the first time since 1997.
Morgan won the 3A football championship Friday in an 8-0 slugfest at Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium.
Morgan took the lead early when a punt attempt on Juab’s first drive was muffed by a bad snap over the punters head, who tracked the ball down and fell on it in the end zone, giving the Trojans a 2-0 lead via safety.
After the safety punt, Morgan used a big return by Trevor Jarrett and enough offense on their first drive to reach field goal range, where kicker Sloan Calder booted a 45-yard field goal to give the Trojans the 5-0 advantage at the 7:30 mark of the opening quarter.
The score stayed the same throughout the first half with the defenses of both the Trojans and Wasps keeping each other off the scoresheet, allowing Morgan to take its small lead into the locker room.
Juab had a promising start to the second half, intercepting Morgan quarterback Carter Thackeray and returning it to the 45-yard line. The Wasps used a few running plays to advance the ball near the red zone before Morgan’s Jamesen Burraston stripped Cade Bowring on a rush.
The Trojans recovered the fumble, halting Juab’s momentum with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Morgan capitalized on the ensuing drive, using big plays on the ground by Jarrett to move the ball into field-goal range. After failing to move the ball farther, Calder stepped up and split the uprights on a 42-yard field goal with 4:48 left in the third for an 8-0 lead.
“Since that kid was young, I kept making him prove himself,” Trojans coach Kovi Christiansen said of Calder. “(I’m) proud of him and that the moment wasn’t too big.”
Both defenses continued to fight. Juab appeared to have its last opportunity of the game stopped with just over a minute and a half left after turning the ball over on downs on a sack.
But Juab’s Jonah Settle forced a fumble on Morgan’s next drive with 1:18 on the clock and the Wasps had the ball at the Morgan 35. After three incompletions, the Trojans picked off the final attempt on fourth down to seal the victory.
“They fight for each other, I can’t say enough about them,” Christiansen said.
One thing he can say now after 22 long years is that the Morgan Trojans are state champions.
The 8-0 victory was only the third state championship game in Utah high school football history that did not feature a touchdown, according to prep football historian George Felt. The other two: Carbon and LDSU tying 0-0 in 1924, and Jordan beating Box Elder 3-0 in 1934.
Morgan won both its semifinal and final games without scoring an offensive touchdown, recording a safety in each game, a defensive touchdown and two field goals.