High school football: Roy steals Bountiful’s thunder in 26-14 road win

BOUNTIFUL — Bountiful had as much possible crowd advantage as there can be with both Homecoming and Senior Night happening on the same night, but instead, it was Roy that stole the show.

Roy came into Bountiful and forced five turnovers as the Royals took down the Redhawks, 26-14, a win that gave Roy a clear lead in the Region 5 title race.

Last week, Region 5 had four teams all tied for first at 4-1, but Roy was the only one of the four not to lose in Week 9, giving it a one-game lead in the region race at 5-1.

Since a Week 5 loss at home to Box Elder, Roy has held every opponent to 17 points or fewer. Its defense came up in a massive way on Friday night as all 26 of the Royals’ points came after the defense forced a turnover.

At 7-2 overall, the Royals also cemented a perfect 5-0 record on the road with their final game being at home next week against Northridge.

Roy benefitted from stellar play on both sides of the ball in the first quarter, but Bountiful nearly turned the whole game around with a 14-0 run in the second quarter. Despite dominating early, Roy had just a 17-14 lead at halftime. After the break, the Royals relied on their defense to guide them to a win.

“We had to just tell ourselves it was a 0-0 ballgame,” Roy coach Chris Solomana said. “Then we came in with that mindset to win the third quarter and take it one play at a time.”

The Redhawks’ offense didn’t struggle to move so much in the beginning as it did to protect the ball. A fumble on their first drive and interceptions on the next two gave Roy the ability to build an early advantage.

The Royals’ athleticism was on full display through the first quarter as DaeQwan Snider rumbled through defenders for an 8-yard touchdown. A few plays after the pick, quarterback Dru Gardner fooled the defense with a counter play on a QB keeper and took it 60 yards for a score to make it 14-0. The Royals build the two-score lead without attempting a single pass beyond the line of scrimmage.

Snider finished the game with two TDs.

Once Roy got up 17-0, the Redhawks hit the gas, finding previously unseen holes in the Roy defense and gaining yards in massive chunks. Sophomore running back Siaki Fekitoa put the team on his back, scoring a 20-yard touchdown run. After Bountiful nabbed an interception deep in Roy territory, Fekitoa answered the call again, this time for a 3-yard TD run.

After halftime, Roy leaned heavily on defense but still got another field goal to go ahead, 20-14.

At the start of the fourth quarter with Bountiful inside Roy’s 20-yard line, Royals defensive back Cole West delivered the play that may have won his team the Region 5 title. Two plays into the fourth, West played tight enough defense to nab an interception right at the goal line and take it back 50 yards to douse the flame of a Redhawks comeback.

“Those picks were huge, and we needed every single one of them,” Solomana said. “It gave us a spark and we were able to do what we needed to do on offense.”

After the pick, Roy managed to all but end it with a touchdown drive that was almost just a field goal. Roy successfully nailed a 42-yard field goal on fourth-and-long, but a somewhat controversial roughing the kicker penalty instead gave the Royals a first down. A few plays later, Robert Young punched in a 4-yard score for the Royals that proved the death knell for Bountiful.

With a likely win over Northridge at home next Friday, the Royals can end the season as the Region 5 champions in their first year in both the region itself and the 5A classification.