Pleasant Grove • Winning state championships is never easy, but Duchesne's football team has certainly made it look that way.
The Eagles captured their third consecutive 1A state championship Saturday with a 28-0 victory over longtime rival Rich. Duchesne has now defeated Rich twice in the last three years for the state title, the first time in overtime.
This one never seemed that close.
"It feels like you're on top of the world, especially after winning our third," Duchesne quarterback Trent Roberts said. "It's indescribable. The difference is hard work and preparing. We watch so much film. [Winning] never gets old."
Though freezing temperatures slowed both teams early, Duchesne heated up in the second quarter. Kaden Moon scampered 38 yards for a touchdown and McKade Nielsen scooped up a fumble on Rich's ensuing possession and returned it 46 yards for another score, giving the Eagles all the points they would need.
The outcome marked Duchesne's 34th consecutive victory and sixth straight over Rich. The Eagles' last defeat came in August 2010.
"Every team has the same goal, but only one can reach that goal," Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan said. "This is a great feeling. It will never get old; that's why we do it. These kids haven't lost too many games, and right now the tradition is going good. The next group has a lot to live up to next year."
Playing without leading rusher Kaden Thompson for much of the game, Rich couldn't muster much offense until its final drive. Austin Groll handled both the rushing and passing chores for the Rebels and faced heavy pressure. Groll ran for 49 yards, but completed only 4 of 12 passes with a pair of interceptions.
Nielsen had one of the interceptions along with his fumble return, and also caught a pair of passes for 60 yards, leading the Eagles' charge.
"They left every game on the field," Cowan said. "It's not easy [winning championships]. You've got to be blessed with good kids, and they have to buy in and work hard. All of the championships have their own identity. For us, it's a new group and a new team every year. We've had some great senior classes."
The Eagles converted Nielsen's interception into points early in the third quarter. Moon, who rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries, scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard plunge. Shortly thereafter, Roberts ran around the right end for a 6-yard score, padding the lead to 28-0.
Roberts, who became the starting quarterback during the Eagles' run, said the team has worked hard to change its perception.
"Our past is not very good, so we want to turn it around and make Duchesne a football town," said Roberts, alluding to the Eagles' 10-13 record from 2007-2008, prior to their state championship season. "It's definitely a great feeling."
Limited to just 101 yards through three quarters, the Rebels finally put together a consistent drive in the fourth. Rich drove from its own 4-yard line deep into Duchesne territory before Roberts intercepted a pass to preserve the shutout. After two kneel-downs, the familiar celebration was on.
Roberts completed 4 of 5 passes for 117 yards while Matt Muir and Josh Hanberg combined to rush for 93 yards to complement Moon.
Groll threw for 68 yards to lead Rich, with McKay Jarman catching three passes for 61 yards. Thompson rushed for 38 yards before injuring his ankle.
Storylines Duchesne 28, Rich 0
R Duchesne's Kaden Moon rushes for 121 yards and scores two touchdowns.
• Duchesne wins its 34th straight game.