<strong>LOGAN—</strong> In a rematch of last year’s 4A State title game, it was the Logan Grizzlies who emerged victorious once again as the handed the East Leopards their first loss of the season, defeating the No. 1 ranked team in the state, 51-34.
Senior receiver Beau Artist had a monster game as he and quarterback Luke Falk hooked up early and often. Artist hauled in 13 catches on the night for an incredible 260 yards and four touchdowns.
“We had some good stuff going on tonight. Our coaches made some great play calls and we were able to execute.” Artist said. “Falk threw some great balls and I was able to get ahead of the coverage and make some plays.”
Early on though, it looked like the game might be a blowout in favor of the Leopards. A team full of size and speed, East showcased its talent right out of the gate as Preston Curtis returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score.
Logan responded to the Leopards’ initial score with a drive of their own to knot things up at 7-7. Following that drive though, the Grizzlies offense would sputter for most of the rest of the first quarter, while the Logan defense struggled to contain East’s triple option attack.
Following a 5-yard TD by quarterback Isaac Valles and a 68-yard scoring run by Curtis, Logan trailed 20-7 and appeared to be in danger of getting run off the field. The Grizzlies offense regrouped though, and aided by a 50-yard reception by Jesse Braddy, scored in four plays as Artist hauled in his second touchdown of the night.
East again began to move the ball down the field, but on third and short, Jaden Connor recovered the first of back-to-back fumbles by the Leopards to set the Grizzlies up. Logan took advantage of the miscue, tying the game up on a 1-yard fourth down run by Braddy. The PAT was missed, leaving the score tied at 20.
After East’s next fumble, Falk led the Grizzlies 62 yards for the go-ahead score with 6:39 left in the first half as he found Zach Rich from four yards out. Falk completed 26-of-50 passes on the night for 520 yards and five touchdowns before leaving early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
“I’m so proud of the way we came out and played tonight,” Grizzlies head coach Mike Favro said. “They came out and got to us at the very beginning when they returned the opening kick off for a touchdown. We had to fight hard to come back into the game and we made the plays down the stretch to give ourselves a victory.”
The Logan defense stepped up and stuffed the Leopards on their next drive, and the Grizzly offense began to move the ball again. The Grizzlies made their first mistake of the game though, as Taylor Compton was stripped from behind after catching a pass and picking up the first down. East took advantage of the turnover, and drove down the field in the waning seconds of the first half with a chance to tie the game.
After getting down to the Grizzlies 11 yard line where they had a first and 10, poor clock management left the Leopards with a third down and three from the Logan four yard line with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. A batted ball by Chase Nelson and a dropped pass on fourth down by BYU commit John Fakahafua left East trailing at the half, 27-20, for the first time all season.
The Grizzlies opened up the second half with the football, but couldn’t get anything going as three straight incompletions led to a three-and-out. East again moved the ball deep into Logan territory on the ensuing play, but another huge defensive stop – an 11-yard sack of Valles on fourth and six – gave the ball back to the Grizzlies again.
The Logan offense knew what to do.
Falk connected with Artist on passes of 28, five, and 37 yards all in a row, the last of which for Artist’s third TD catch of the game. Following another fumble by Valles, Artist promptly hauled in his fourth touchdown of the night, a 43-yard bomb down the sideline.
Logan continued to pour it on as East struggled to hold on to the football. Another fumble, this time recovered by Sam Bennion, led to an Angel Reyes 34-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Logan ahead 44-20, and end a run of 37 unanswered points by the Grizzlies.
However, the No. 1 ranked team in the state wasn’t about to give up yet.
Logan made the mistake of kicking off to Curtis, who promptly returned the ball 95 yards for a touchdown to give his team life. After a great defensive stand, the East offense quickly struck again when quarterback Isaac Valles connected with Jewka Patetefa on a 37-yard scoring strike to cut the lead down to 44-34, with more than nine minutes still remaining in the game.
With Falk unable to return due to his ankle injury, Braddy took over and the Logan offense hit a struggled. Following another three-and-out, the game was in serious doubt as East got the ball back with an opportunity to score again.
Enter Hunter Ballam.
The do-it-all safety, who finished with a team-high 14 tackles, picked off Valles to record the Grizzlies fifth takeaway of the game. A 15-yard personal foul penalty was tacked on to the end of Ballam’s return, giving the Grizzly offense the ball at the East 22 yard line. Two plays later, Braddy – throwing off his back foot under heavy pressure – connected with Compton to put Logan back in control, 51-34, with 7:03 remaining.
Following the interception, East was unable to mount another comeback as the Grizzlies were able to secure the victory. With the No. 2 seed from Region 5 already locked up, Logan will play a home game on either Oct. 26 or 27 in the first round of the playoffs.
“This was a great game for us tonight,” Favero said. “They played tough, we played tough and it was an all out battle. Our team is really confident right now as we head into the playoffs and we are going to be a scary team to face.”