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Midvale • Jerry Cowan knows his defense is good, but even he was surprised by the seven turnovers his Duchesne defense created Saturday.

The Duchesne Eagles punched their third consecutive ticket to the 1A state football championship game with a 35-7 rout of the Monticello Buckaroos. Duchense's road to a potential three-peat marks its 33rd straight victory.

But it took a half for the Eagles to find their stride.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with the only score coming from Eagles quarterback Trent Roberts' 27-yard pass to McKade Neilson. A 2-point conversation pass to Matt Muir sent Duchesne to the locker room ahead 8-0.

"Our coaches emphasized on the seniors and wanting to wear the blue and white one more week," Roberts said. "Our defense needed to bear down."

The Eagles came out like defending state champions in the second half. After Christian Mahen returned an interception 31 yards, Roberts punched the ball in from the 7-yard line.

"They needed to settle down and stop playing with nerves," Cowan said. "Three defensive touchdowns was the difference in this game."

The defense continued its takeover after Roberts' score.

Defensive lineman Ty Summarell picked up a loose ball and ran it in from the 26 in the waning moments of the third quarter for a 21-0 lead.

The second defensive TD came when Roberts blitzed and a mishandled snap bounced off the facemask of Monticello's Austin Maloy. Roberts snagged the loose ball for a score.

Mahen returned another interception 27 yards for the Eagles' third defensive score.

"Having three defensive touchdowns is a really big thing," Roberts said.

Duchesne dominated with 233 yards rushing to Monticello's 84. Maloy's QB keeper late in the third quarter was the Buckaroos' only score.

The Eagles will play Rich for the state title at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Pleasant Grove High.

"I love playing with a target on my back," Roberts said. "I've only had one loss in my career, and I don't plan on getting any more." —

Playoff schedule

5A semifinals

Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium

11 a.m. • Syracuse vs. Bingham

2:30 p.m. • Lone Peak vs. Jordan

4A semifinals

Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium

11 a.m. • Highland vs. Mountain Crest

2:30 p.m. • Timpview vs. East

3A semifinals

at Rice-Eccles Stadium

Thursday • Spanish Fork vs. Desert Hills, 6:30 p.m.

Friday • Juan Diego vs. Dixie, 6:30 p.m.

2A title game

Saturday at Pleasant Grove High

11 a.m. • Manti vs. San Juan

1A title game

Saturday at Pleasant Grove High

2 p.m. • Duchesne vs. Rich

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