The Kanab Cowboys suffered a heartbreaking loss for the second straight year in the 1A State Football Championship Game. Five turnovers, all interceptions, sealed Kanab’s fate. Cowboy head coach Bucky Orton summed it up, “You’re not going to win many games committing five turnovers, especially in a state championship game against a quality opponent.”

The Cowboys had plenty of chances to win the game, but penalties also played a part in the loss. Kanab scored a touchdown on fourth down, only to have the score nullified on an illegal lineman downfield penalty. Not only was the touchdown wiped off the scoreboard, but it was also a loss of down, so they turned the ball over deep in Duchesne territory.

Coach Orton was impressed with the way his defense played, saying,“The defense played an awesome game. They stuffed a Duchesne drive at the goal line to keep us in the game.”

The Cowboy offense moved the ball, picking up 19 first downs, to the Eagles’ nine. Kanab had 312 yards of offense, with 240 coming through the air. Duchesne had a more balanced attack, with 105 yards coming on the ground and 125 through the air. The Cowboy defense only allowed five pass completions in the entire game, but they were big plays, gaining an average of 25 yards per play.

Duchesne got the ball first, but after picking up one first down, were forced to punt. Layne Anderson returned the punt 22 yards to the Cowboy 33. On their first series, Kanab drove 67 yards on 10 plays, capping it off when quarterback Tavin Ott hit tight end Parker Collins on a 10 yard pass that reached the end zone. A Carter Jackman extra point gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead ... and things looked good.

Kanab’s “D” held once again, forcing another Eagle punt after three plays gained little yardage. The Cowboys had excellent field position on their own 47 after the punt. Ott was sacked for an eight yard loss on the first play. After an incomplete pass, Ott was picked off for the first time. Three plays later, Duchesne was facing a fourth and five from their own 32 yard line and went for it. The pass fell incomplete and Kanab once again had great field position.

Kanab picked up one first down before a holding penalty pushed them back to the 39 yard line. With 10:18 left in the second quarter, Ott was picked off for the second time, putting Duchesne on their own 30 yard line. The Eagles put together their best drive of the game, going the distance in 11 plays, with all but two plays on the ground. They scored on a one yard plunge by Weston Poulson with 5:37 left until the half

Kanab took the kickoff and drove to the Eagle 46 yard line. Facing a fourth and two, Anderson was stopped one yard short. Duchesne punted the ball three plays later and Kanab was back on offense at their own 35 with 3:15 left in the first half. Porter Johnson had a nice run of 16 yards into Duchesne territory. Ott hit Treg Reidhead and Anderson on two consecutive pass plays, down to the Eagle 12 yard line. Jackman kicked a 29 yard field goal as time expired and Kanab led 10-6 at the break.

Not much happened in the third period. The Cowboys moved the ball, but another interception killed one drive. Late in the third, Kanab drove down to the Eagle eight yard line. On the second play of the fourth quarter, facing a fourth and two from the eight yar d line, Anderson took a handoff and threw a touchdown pass to Monte Glover. A penalty on Kanab nullified the score. This was the illegal lineman downfield call, which comes with a loss of down.

Duchesne took over on their own 13 yard line. The touchdown would have made the score 17-6 in favor of the Cowboys, and the game might have played out differently.

The game took a big turn when Duchesne’s Chad Lewis caught a halfback option pass from Steven Skewes and scampered 75 yards before Jackson Swain could bring him down on the Kanab seven yard line. The Kanab defense came up big though, keeping the Eagles out of the end zone. Kanab stopped two plays from the one yard line and took over on downs.

Kanab punted from the end zone three plays later and Duchesne had the ball in Cowboy territory at the 44 yard line. After picking up a first down, Duchesne ‘s Jaren Mortensen hauled in a screen pass from QB Jarett Spencer and raced 32 yards to the the end zone. The extra point kick made it 13-10 and gave the Eagles their first lead of the game.

A lateral pass play on the kickoff from Glover to Reidhead gave Kanab good field position at the 41. After picking up one first down, Ott was picked off again, this time at the Eagle 36 yard line. On fourth and one, Duchesne went for it on their own 45. Derrik Fox stopped the runner short of the first down and Kanab took over.

After the Cowboys picked up one first down, Ott threw his last interception of the day, but this one was a killer. Eagle defender Ammon Graehl made the play of the game, and ran it back 80 yards for a pick-six touchdown. Instead of Kanab scoring and re-taking the lead, they were down by nine points. Duchesne went for two and did not make it, so the score was 19-10 with only 2:41 left in the game.

Reidhead had a nice kick return, bringing the ball all the way back to midfield. Two pass plays, the first to Glover for 15 yards, and the second to Anderson for 11, and Kanab was on the Eagle 16. Two plays later Ott ran it in for the score from eight yards out. Another Jackman PAT cut the lead to 19-17. But there was only 48 seconds left in the game. The onside kick went out of bounds and Duchesne ran out the clock to get the win.

Anderson hauled in 12 passes for 117 yards to lead Cowboy receivers. Anderson also had nine tackles to pace the defense. Jake Shakespear was in on eight tackles, while Kason Whitesides, Fox and Swain each had six.

Coach Orton said, “We didn’t make the most of our opportunities. It truly was a game of inches. We had three tipped passes intercepted, or we probably would have won. It truly was a heartbreaker!”

Kanab beat Duchesne 13-0 in the fourth game of the year, which ended up being their only loss.

Beaver won the 2A title game with a 55-35 win over South Summit just prior to the 1A title game. The high scoring contest was 28-28 at the the half. Beaver was the only other team to beat Kanab this year, as the Cowboys ended up with an 11-2 record. Congratulations Cowboys on a great season!