SMITHFIELD — With second place on the line in Region 11 football, it came down to the final seconds Friday night.
And what a wild few seconds those last few were.
There was no dust to settle at the end as it rained pretty much the whole game. Sky View was able to hold off a late drive by the Wolves and scored a defensive touchdown on the final play of the game to secure a 20-7 win on Senior Night.
“I’m really proud of our kids for fighting like crazy,” SV head coach Christopher Howell said. “That was a battle. That’s as good of a defensive team as we have played all year. They deserve a lot of credit.”
While the Bobcat seniors celebrated after the game together, there was no pre-game honoring of the seniors. A lightening delay and the inclement weather prevented that from happening. But the hosts didn’t seem to mind after the game.
“We just kept hanging in there,” Bobcat wide receiver/defensive back Davis Hall said. “We knew it would be a tough game, rivalry game. They are a good team. We just hung in there through the lightening delay.”
“Tonight was all about grit,” SV quarterback Garrett Zollinger said. “We knew the weather was going to be crappy. We just had to find a way. We made mistakes and had to bounce back.”
The Bobcats (6-3, 4-1 region) had to make one final stand, and it got a little crazy. The Wolves (7-2, 3-2), who have won five games by a touchdown or less, seemed to be on their way to possibly adding to that total.
Green Canyon got the ball back when Sky View missed a 28-yard field goal into the win and rain. With just over three minutes to play, the Wolves started their final drive.
“Our kids played tough tonight,” GC head coach Craig Anhder said.
The Wolves converted a third-and-6 when quarterback Jack Stephens scrambled free and hit Caden Stuart for a 28-yard gain. On fourth-and-10, a pass interference on the Bobcats kept the visitors hopes alive. Stephens then scrambled for 10 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the 9.
“We gifted them two plays in that last series,” Howell said. “We need to tighten up in that situation defensively.”
On second-and-goal from the 7, Stephens kept the ball and had a hole up the middle. He was met by Bobcat noseguard Daxxon Dehek near the 2 and stretched for the end zone. The ball came loose upon contact of the ground and Sky View recovered. One official seemed to start to signal touchdown, while another rushed in marking the signal caller down. The officials met and ended up ruling Stephens was down at the 1. That didn’t sit well with the Green Canyon coaching staff.
“In my view, it looked like it was in,” Anhder said. “They (officials) don’t talk to me. They said they don’t have to tell me those kind of things.”
With just seconds left, the Wolves hurried to the line. The snap trickled between Stephens legs and sat all alone on the turf for what seemed several seconds. Sky View defensive back Cole Watterson scooped up the pigskin and went the other direction for an apparent TD.
“I’m so proud of our defense,” Zollinger said. “They played awesome.”
Another meeting of the officials ended with them saying the game was over. There was never a signal that Watterson’s 98 yard fumble recovery was a score, but they told Sky View coaches it was.
“I don’t care, but I was told the touchdown at the end stands,” Howell said. “They just snapped the ball through the quarterback’s legs. It was crazy.”
“We knew we could stop them, it was just a matter of doing it,” Hall said. “And it happened.”
While the final plays will loom large for the Wolves, they had other promising drives fizzle. Green Canyon finished with 349 yards of total offense and ran 72 offensive plays.
“I thought we played well,” Anhder said. “We moved the ball on them and held them a lot with our defense. Just two or three plays we don’t and we couldn’t finish some drives. ... Sometimes when you win close games you have a little luck, and I just felt like we didn’t have any luck tonight.”
Stephens passed for 126 yards on 15 of 26 attempts. He completed six passes to Stuart for 48 yards and five to Will Egan for 47 yards. Gavin Christiansen led the rushing attack with 131 yards on 21 carries, while Stephens finished with 79 yards on the ground on 17 carries.
Sky View finished with 255 yards of total offense on 42 plays. Zollinger completed 9 of 19 attempts for 168 yards and two TDs, but was also picked off twice. Hall caught six of those passes for 119 yards and a score. Zollinger had 28 yards on 15 carries to lead the Bobcats.
“He (Hall) was open whenever I needed him; it was awesome,” Zollinger said. “I just try and take what the defense gives me.”
Green Canyon struck first. After the Wolves held the Bobcats to three plays and a punt, they took over and marched 68 yards on nine plays to start the game. Christiansen broke free thanks to a big hole provided by the offensive line and outran the Sky View secondary for a 41-yard TD just four minutes into the game.
The hosts tied up the game late in the opening quarter when Zollinger hit Hall with a quick pass. Hall turned on the speed and was gone for a 76-yard TD.
“I love having Garrett throw me the ball,” Hall said. “I just made the catch on the touchdown and then made a play in the open field.”
It stayed 7-7 until the fourth quarter, but there were some thrilling moments before the final period.
Hall picked off a pass when the Wolves were driving just before halftime and returned it 30 yards. Then Sky View ran a fake punt, snapping the ball to Kason Spackman, who rumbled 24 yards on fourth-and-4 late in the first half. However, on the very next play Green Canyon defensive lineman Will Wheatley alertly intercepted a pass.
The Wolves got the ball to start the third quarter and ran 12 plays before turning it over on downs at the SV 37.
Brody Hamann picked off a pass near midfield for the Wolves, but the offense spurted after that opportunity. Both punters did well under the conditions and got friendly rolls throughout the game.
Sky View started what would be the game-winning drive at the end of the third. The Bobcats drive 80 yards in nine plays, converting two third-down plays. Zollinger broke free for a 20-yard run, and Dee Wilde also picked up 20 on the ground. On third-and-5, Zollinger had all day and found Kimball Jackson over the middle for an 11-yard TD strike.
“I was a little more calm on the second touchdown pass,” Zollinger said. “... Green Canyon played hard. Their defense is amazing. They fly around and make plays.”
Sheets of rain began to fall setting up the thrilling finish.
“It was a dog fight,” Howell said. “That is a 7-1 team (Green Canyon). They have found ways to win all year long. We just found a way to make one more play than they did. ... I’m always nervous when it’s a seven-point game. I’m proud of our guys.”
Sky View will play a non-region game next week at Bountiful, while Green Canyon will start preparing for the state playoffs.
“Now we will get ready for the playoffs,” Anhder said. “We are excited to get ready for that.”
BOBCATS 20, WOLVES 7
Friday at Smithfield
Green Canyon 7 0 0 0 — 7
Sky View 7 0 0 13 — 20
GC — Gavin Christiansen 41 run (Caleb Naegle kick), 7:50
SV — Davis Hall 76 pass from Garrett Zollinger (Kasen Erickson kick), :50
SV — Kimball Jackson 11 pass from Zollinger (Erickson kick), 8:54
SV — Cole Watterson 98 fumble return, :00