Bountiful • After a scoreless first quarter Friday, it seemed that defense would be the highlight of Bountiful's game against East.
Then the Braves started giving the ball away.
Four turnovers by Bountiful (6-2) translated to touchdowns for East (7-0), and in the end the Leopards had no problem running up 425 yards of offense for a 47-13 win over their chief rival in Region 6. With Friday night's victory, East staked its claim as not only the best team in its region, but probably the best in 4A by a mile.
"You know, it had been a while since we played a team like Bountiful, so it feels great to beat good teams," defensive lineman Korey Rush said. "It's a confidence booster."
The fearsome Leopards front did nothing to boost the confidence of Bountiful's offense, sacking quarterback Jordan Hayes three times in the first quarter and ultimately driving him out of the game with a concussion. The entire first half, the Braves only gained three net yards from its offense.
East's offense had similar early struggles, but finally got its run game going behind quarterback Isaac Valles. Neil Robbins had the first score, a 12-yard touchdown run, and Valles followed up with a 30-yard dash to the end zone after the team recovered a Bountiful fumble.
Up 13-0 at halftime, East only continued the deluge after the break. Big-bodied running back Ula Tolutau ran wild with scores of 63, 6 and 10 yards as the Braves defense wore down against the Leopards' blockers.
The unexpected part was how often Bountiful coughed up the football: Three times, the Braves lost the rock on the first play of a drive. Robbins starred, grabbing an interception and recovering one fumble. Patrick Palau grabbed another fumble.
"It was welcome, that's for sure," coach Brandon Matich said of the turnovers. "We're usually on the minus of that, so it was a change."
Valles added another dive and Preston Curtis flashed his speed with a 36-yard run before East brought out all of its starters in the fourth quarter.
Bountiful did score on a pass from backup passer Taylor Holman to Sam Merrill, but couldn't mount any more significant drives. Its last score was a run by Houston Heimuli in the final minute, when East had already activated the running clock rule.
All in all, it was a powerful statement for a team that finished runner-up in state last year.
"I think it probably is [our best game,]" Matich said. "These kids really wanted it. Our coaches did a great job of planning for their offense, and we just did our jobs."