WOODS CROSS — Roy High head football coach Fred Fernandes made his return to the sideline Friday night following his recovery from open-heart surgery.

The Royals responded with an uninspired first half of football and trailed 21-17 going into the break.

The final 24 minutes, though, were a different story. Roy went on a 41-0 second-half surge en route to blasting Woods Cross 58-28 in the Region 5 opener for both squads.

“It’s good to have (Fernandes) back, yelling in our ear, getting us motivated for big plays,” senior Josh Gallegos said.

Roy (4-1, 1-0 Region 5) found itself in trouble early as the Wildcats went 60 yards for a score on their opening possession then bumped the lead to 14-0 late in the first period on a 52-yard Sam Nerdin touchdown burst through the heart of the Royal defense.

The Royals quickly responded with a 26-yard Britton Watts field goal, followed by touchdown runs from Kyrese Rowan and sophomore Jaden Harris go ahead 17-14 midway through the second period.

The Wildcats (2-3, 0-1) lost their two offensive standouts in running back Martin Samuelu and quarterback Carston Naegle to injury in the first half.

Carter Weierman stepped in at quarterback and promptly went 4 for 5 for 88 yards on his first possession, which concluded with a 17-yard TD pass to Nerdin to make it 21-17.

It was all downhill from there for the Wildcats as the Royals stormed back following the intermission.

“We didn’t change anything,” Gallegos said about halftime adjustments. “They weren’t beating us. Someone would slip off the line or someone peaked at the ball too soon. We just beat ourselves. So we came out and did our thing. The second half has kinda been our time to play.”

Harris put the Royals back on top with a 14-yard run and Gallegos extended to the lead to 30-21 by hauling in a 32-yard Jaxson Dart offering that was tipped by a defender in the end zone before he cradled it in.

Two more short touchdown runs from Harris — giving him four on the evening — put Roy up 44-21.

Dart then scored on a keeper and Angel Martinez scooped up a fumble and ran it in in the waning minutes.

“Jaden, he’s a baller,” Gallegos said. “He’s a big body and he’s put in some work. Last game we put him in for a few blasts and he was running people over so we just stuck with it. He’s really stepped up.”

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