Zion Lions shut out in league title game as Wasatch avenges earlier season losses

Zion Lions quarterback Shaquille Patterson fumbles the ball vs. Wasatch Revolution, South West Football League championship, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Zion Lions bid for an undefeated season ended Saturday night with a 17-0 shutout loss to the Wasatch Revolution in the semiprofessional South Western Football League’s championship game.

Zion Lions returner Trey Smith vs. Wasatch Revolution, South West Football League championship, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The Rev avenged two earlier season losses to the Lions in capturing the victory on Zion’s home field at Pine View High School.

“Did I think coming in we were going to win 17-0? Absolutely not,” Wasatch head coach Ryan Lang said afterward. “But a defensive performance like that takes a lot of guts. We had a lot of guys rallying to the football, which we didn’t do in the previous games.”

Revolution quarterback Charlie Peterson completed 13 of 26 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, despite sitting out for a few series mid-game, during which time receiver Sam Thomas filled in at QB.

“Charlie played great in the first half,” Lang said. “In the second half, their defense was coming after us and they were laying hands on us, and he went down, but you know, we’re lucky enough we got ball players on this team, so it’s definitely a next-man-up type of mentality. Sam Thomas stepped in, and he didn’t do anything super special or super exotic, but we still won 17-0. And that’s what matters.”

Zion Lions running back Prentiss Miller is tackled by Victor McKenzie of the Wasatch Revolution, South West Football League championship, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The Revolution scored all of their points in the first half, yet they managed to keep the league’s top-scoring team off the scoreboard entirely.

“It just wasn’t our night,” said Zion Lions head coach Dale Stott, who started Shaquille Patterson in place of regular quarterback Michael Matalolo, who was having shoulder problems with his throwing arm.

Matalolo did come in at QB in the second quarter after the Rev had built a 10-0 lead, but struggled with his throwing. He completed just 2 for 15 passes for 35 yards and threw an uncharacteristic four interceptions.

“Michael Matalolo, who you know was the league MVP, is usually, so on target … he’d only thrown three interceptions all year, but his shoulder wasn’t right,” Stott said. “We probably shouldn’t have played him. But he’s got all heart. He just wanted to play, and so he really battled and did the best he could.”

Stott said the QB situation led to “a lot of uncertainty, so some of the newness of the situation was a problem,” Stott said. “We had turnovers early on and it was costing us. We just couldn’t ever get into a rhythm offensively.”

Zion Lions players on sidelines vs. Wasatch Revolution, South West Football League championship, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Zion’s best chance of scoring came early in the first quarter, after they’d taken over the ball at midfield after forcing Wasatch to punt on its first possession. The Lions advanced as close as the Rev’s 10-yard line but had to settle for a field goal attempt three plays later, which was blocked.

Wasatch then scored on its next possession when Bryce Kennington booted a 28-yard FG to make it 3-0. Later in the first quarter, Peterson threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Thomas, and Kennington’s PAT kick made it 10-0.

Wasatch scored another TD in the second quarter, with Peterson again connecting with Thomas, this time in the end zone from five yards out. The Rev owned a 17-0 advantage at halftime, and it proved to be sufficient.

Stott said the Lions defense showed toughness in not letting Wasatch score in the second half.

“You need the offense to move the ball a little bit to give you a break on defense,” he said. “They got tired, but I give them all the credit for hanging in there.”

In addition to turning the ball over six times (four interceptions and two lost fumbles), the Lions also were whistled for 11 penalties, costing them 125 yards. The Rev, by comparison, committed six penalties for 30 yards total.

One notable instance of an untimely penalty came early in the third quarter, when the Lions appeared to have made a defensive stop on 4th down and 13. However, a Zion player was called for a foul on the play, giving the Rev 15 yards and a first down.

After the game, Wasatch’s players, coaches and fans cheered loudly and celebrated on the field, posing for photos with the league championship trophy. Although the Zion crowd was much more subdued, there were individual honors awarded the Lions. Matalolo received an individual trophy for being named the league’s MVP for the season. In addition, running back Prentiss Miller was named the league’s co-offensive player of the year, and linebacker Bradee Sunderland was named co-defensive player.

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Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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