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Pioneers earn big victory over Desert Hills



The Lehi High School football team used stout defense and an effective offense to fashion a 31-14 win over Desert Hills to start the home slate as a 6A school on Aug. 18.

The Pioneers did give up three turnovers and missed two field-goal attempts in the contest, but this was more than made up for by a relentless attack. The Thunder were held scoreless until late in the third quarter and added a meaningless touchdown in the final minute to narrow the margin.

The initial kickoff was returned 10 yards to the Desert Hills 36 by Lehi senior Hyrum Faber. After a couple of big plays, this drive sputtered and ended with a missed field goal.

The Thunder were only able to manage a single first down on their subsequent possession and senior Boston Fabrizio broke the first of four big punt returns to set the Pioneers up nicely. However, they fumbled the ball away and then it was Desert Hills that missed a long field goal try.

After these early miscues, Lehi settled in. Key plays in the next drive included a 19-yard connection between junior quarterback Jett Niu and senior wide receiver Kaleb Moore plus a 30-yard ground gain by sophomore running back Devaughn Eka.

Niu found senior wide receiver Tyson Greenwood for the 13-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. Junior kicker Gavin Fenn made the first of four PATs to give the Pioneers a 7-0 advantage.

Lehi’s first two possessions of the second period ended in another missed field goal and an interception, but the defense yielded nothing so the Thunder couldn’t capitalize.

With another short field after a Fabrizio punt return, it took just five plays for senior wide receiver Jace John to collect a 1-yard pass from Niu in the endzone with 3:09 left in the half. The score stayed at 14-0 to the break.


Fenn added a 48-yard field goal early in the third quarter to extend the lead for the Pioneers. The visitors finally got on the board at the 2:33 mark with a drive following a Lehi interception to make it 17-7.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Pioneers were pinned deep in their end. Desert Hills blocked the punt and recovered the ball at the 7-yard line. The Lehi defense rose to the occasion and came up with two big tackles for loss in the next series, forcing a field-goal try that bounced off the bar.

The Pioneers came right back with a score to extend the lead. A 20-yard gain by Eka was followed by pass completions to Moore and Greenwood to advance the ball into Thunder territory.

Niu then found senior tight end Grayson Brousseau for a 41-yard touchdown to push the margin to 24-7 with 9:05 remaining.

Desert Hills was stymied again on their next possession, and Lehi got favorable field position once more. Junior wide receiver Mays Madsen picked up 28 yards with a gut catch in double coverage and was rewarded with an 11-yard touchdown reception to make it 31-7 with 4:51 to play.

The Thunder scored in the final minute against the reserves to finish the tally for the night.

Niu ended the game 26-of-39 (66.7%) for 268 yards, fourtouchdowns and two interceptions. Eka rushed 12 times for 101yards and also had seven catches for 41 yards. The Pioneers used seven receivers in the contest; Brousseau was the yardage leader with 59 on three catches.

Junior linebacker Landon Roberts led the solid defensive effort with four solo and 10 assisted tackles, including a sack for 12lost yards.


Senior defensive lineman Alema Tamala had 13 combined tackles and junior linebacker Paul Latu had 11. Sophomoredefensive end Penisimani Takitaki (2.5 sacks) and junior safety Ezaiah Mama registered nine combined tackles apiece.

“We moved the ball well but we blew it in the red zone,” said Coach Ed Larson. “We left points on the field, but our players got some good reps under their belts and will continue to learn.

“Overall our tackling wasn’t very good,” the coach continued. “The defense played well but they missed some opportunities also. As it usually does, it will take 4-5 games before all of our new guys get the hang of things at the varsity level.”

This week the Pioneers head north to play Rigby of Idaho on Friday (Aug. 25) at 7 p.m. The Trojans have won three of the last four Idaho 5A championships, including back-to-back in 2021 and 2022.

“We know they’re going to play hard,” Larson said. “There’s a confidence in your program when you win championships. We expect a tough contest but we’re excited for the challenge.”

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