BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
WOODS CROSS – The Woods Cross Wildcats secondary was suffocating the Salem Hills Skyhawks’ passing game Friday night at Woods Cross High School.
With an opportunity to reach the 4A semi-finals on the line, the secondary intercepted four passes from Salem Hills’ spread offense in a 21-7 win.
“That really starts with our front,” said Woods Cross coach Justin Spencer. “They know that if they do their jobs for three or four seconds, then the quarterback is going to be sacked, hurried, or throw off balance. Our front six gets a lot of pressure (on the quarterback).”
The first of four interceptions for the Woods Cross defense happened in the second quarter when Braxton Gunther picked off a pass from Chad Peterson. On the play following the turnover, Wildcat’s quarterback Clay Kidman found Gavin Moore for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
A special teams turnover helped Woods Cross take the lead again after a fumbled punt return was recovered by Woods Cross. The Wildcats took advantage of their fortune by finishing off a six-play, 18-yard drive with a Tomasi Giles two-yard touchdown run.
For Giles, it was the first of his two touchdowns in the game.
“He plays so much on defense and it’s hard for us to get him in at times and play both sides of the ball,” said Spencer. “I’ve been saying to a bunch of people ‘watch for No. 47,’ because when he gets a head of steam, he’s one of the strongest kids I’ve ever met.”
Giles scored his second touchdown in the game in the fourth quarter after powering his way through defenders for a 13-yard score. The touchdown run put him over 100 yards for the game, ending the night with 104 yards and two scores.
“We saw (his strength) tonight,” said Spencer. “He’s running through tackles, he’s breaking tackles, he’s using his speed, and it was great to see it. I’m proud of him for doing the job when his name was called.”
In all, the defense forced five turnovers in the game. Two of them resulted in touchdowns for the offense.
Woods Cross advanced to the 4A State semi-finals for the first time since 1993. That year the Wildcats lost to Pleasant Grove, 14-7.
“It’s just special … I’ve never been there,” said Spencer. “I’m so happy for our kids because they’ve worked so hard for this.”
The Wildcats will face Timpview, which beat Sky View the same day, Thursday at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.