Bryce Dugmore carries the ball for Emery.
Last Friday night the Emery High football team played a game that was a hot topic all over Utah and all over the country as they traveled to Roosevelt and played the now famous Union Cougars. The Union team made the news when the entire team was suspended the previous weekend for lack of character by the players. The team had to perform community service, family service and character education before being allowed to take the field again. The media was there.
Despite the distractions though, the Emery Spartans showed up to play and defeated the host team on their homecoming night 41-21 as the Spartans played with a fire and determination that had been lacking the past several games. Emery, a team that has overcome their own issues this season, played the game the way it is supposed to be played, as a team and with energy.
Emery scored touchdowns the first three times they had the ball and limited the Cougars to a single touchdown in the first half to lead at the half 21-7.
After forcing Union to punt in their opening series after their failure to pick-up a first down, Emery marched down the field 77 yards in 14 plays and scored on a 1-yard run by Marco Mota.
Union then had their only sustained drive of the game in their next possession and tied the score at 7-7. This drive started at the 50-yard line and Union scored after eight plays. The Cougars only managed 11 yards of offense the rest of the half. Emery scored twice more in the first half. The first came after a 65-yard drive and ended on a 1-yard run by Matt Mecham. The second came after a 55 yard drive and ended with Mota scoring again, this time after an 11-yard run.
Emery faltered starting the second half. The Spartans received the opening kick-off and for the first and only time, as it turns out, had to punt. Unfortunately, the punt was blocked and the Cougars had the ball at the Emery four yard line. They scored. This was not the way Emery wanted to start the half.
Emery on their next series, picked up 28 yards on three carries only to fumble the ball away. Emery's defense rose to the occasion and held the Cougars out of the end zone and the Spartans got the ball for the third time of the half. This time Emery scored on a 60-yard run by Mota and the Spartans were feeling better.
Disaster struck again though, the Cougars ran the ensuing kick-off back for a touchdown and Emery found their lead back to seven points at 28-21.
Emery's defense held Union the rest of the game to just a few yards while the Spartans added two more scores.
Ryan Cox scored on a 1-yard run and then Mota added his fourth touchdown of the night, this time on a 3-yard run.
Mota, seeing his first action in four weeks, gained 189 yards on 26 carries in the game and also caught three passes for 59 yards. Cox ran the ball 22 times and gained 151 yards on the ground and caught a pass for 4 yards. Mecham ran the ball 14 times for 68 yards.
Gavin McDermott, a wide receiver for the Spartans, had a reception in the first half that would make most highlight films.
On a third and seven at the Emery 38-yard line, a pass was thrown toward McDermott that the Emery sideline thought was way over thrown. As the ball got close, McDermott reached out with one hand and hauled it in and the Spartans gained 47 yards on the play and kept the Emery momentum going.
While gaining more than 500 yards of offense, the Spartans were equally dominant on defense.
Emery held Union to 61 yards in the first half and 60 yards in the second half and never got anything really going.
Emery is back on the road for their next game as they will travel to Grantsville this Friday night in another tough region contest.