ST. GEORGE -- How sweet it is.
And oh how wild the finish was. But in the end the Bobcats were celebrating and tears of joy were falling after a thrilling 39-33 victory against Pine View.
Sky View repeated as 4A state football champions Saturday afternoon at Trailblazer Stadium on the campus of Dixie State University. It came down to the final seconds and then some before the Bobcats could grab hold of that championship trophy and show it off to their fans.
“It was very emotional to get it the second time, especially as a senior,” said Bobcat lineman Evan Hall, who accepted the trophy from SV principal Mike Monson and carried it to the edge of the stands. “I love these guys so much. They are going to be my family forever. There is no feeling like it. … It’s way sweeter the second time. 4A is ours and we came out and proved it.”
The Bobcats capped off a perfect season, going 13-0. They also matched 2A state champion Beaver for the second longest active winning streak of 25.
“This is so awesome, different from last year just because it’s a different team and totally different circumstances,” SV head coach Christopher Howell said. “Last year we whooped them (Park City) pretty good (35-0) and this year was a dog fight. I was so proud of how they won differently. … It came down to players making plays.”
Clinging to a six-point lead with 5:47 minutes to play, Sky View went to work trying to continue their ground attack and eat up the clock. It was going well for more than two-and-a-half mintues but a loose pigskin bounced right to the Panthers’ Enoch Takau at midfield. It was the Bobcats lone turnover of the game and at the worst time.
The high-octane Pine View offense had another chance. But that lasted one play as the ball came free, and Sky View’s Dee Wilde was right there to gobble it up. The Bobcat defense came up with two interceptions and two fumbles in the game.
“Turnovers were huge,” said SV linebacker Hunter “Moose” Lewis, who had one of those interceptions and led the team with nine tackles. “They (Panthers) are a really good offense. We are one of the best defenses in the state and they put up 33 points. Nothing but respect for that offense, but we got the job done.”
Sky View came into the game allowing just 11.6 points a game. Pine View (12-2) was averaging 41.6 points a contest entering the state title game.
After the fumble recovery by Wilde, the Bobcats had 3:08 left before they could celebrate. A first-down run by quarterback Kason Carlsen on fourth-and-1 made it look good as Pine View had to start using its timeouts. Sky View had two delay of game penalties called -- the second when the Bobcats thought they had called timeout. Suddenly it was fourth-and-17 with six seconds to play.
Carlsen dropped back, ran around until the clock had expired and fell to the ground. Game over, right? Not so fast.
There was a yellow flag on the field. Sky View was called for a blind-side block. The Panthers celebrated thinking they had the ball as the game couldn’t end on a penalty. However, if Pine View accepted the penalty, the Bobcats would still have the ball and face another fourth-and-long. After a long dicussion, the Panthers took the penalty. Sky View kneeled. Game over.
“It was the right call,” Howell said. “They (officials) wanted to make sure and take their time and communicate it to their coach and he understood it.”
“Every single play the momentum seemed to be flipped,” Carlsen said. “It was just wild and in the end we found a way to win.”
Carlsen ended up carrying the ball 35 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The Bobcats finished with 369 yards on the ground on 68 attempts and nearly had three rushers hit the century mark. Walter Collins rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries, while wide receiver Isaac Larsen ran the ball six times for 99 yards. Truman Moser picked up 37 yards on six carries and a TD.
“Truman is such a good player,” Carlsen said. “Our line played so well the entire game. We have so many studs on this team.”
Did Howell plan on his quarterback carrying the ball that many times?
“Yes, because he is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached in my life,” Howell said. “I knew if we put it in his hands that good things would happen.”
How did Carlsen feel about running the ball so many times?
“I might have carried it that many times in Little League, but never in a high school game,” Carlsen said. “I knew we were going to try and run the ball … and when my number is called, I’m going to go.”
The Bobcat quarterback passed for 76 yards on 6 of 12 passing and had two TDs through the air.
“This one (championship) feels 10 times better,” Carlsen said.
Sky View finished with 445 yards of total offense, while Pine View had 435. The Panthers passed for 362 yards as quarterback Brayden Bunnell completed 18 of 27 passes and had four TD passes. Dominque McKenzie hauled in five of those passes for 166 yards and a score, while Preston Mann also caught five passes for 103 yards and three TDs. Takau rushed for 78 yards on 12 carries.
“They (Panthers) are really good,” Collins said. “It was just back and forth the whole game.”
Pine View struck first, taking just 71 seconds to go 80 yards in six plays. McKenzie rushed it in from three yards out.
Sky View responded with an 82-yard drive that took 14 plays. The Bobcats converted four third-down plays including the score on a Carlsen pass that could have thread a needle to Trey Nyman for a 22-yard score.
After a sack by Carson Dunkley, Lewis came up with his intereption.
“I just read the quarterback’s eyes and he threw it right to me,” Lewis said. “... This is very sweet and I’m super excited and I’m going to go celebrate with my team.”
Titan Saxton was the receiving end of a 22-yard pass from Carlsen to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game, 13-6 early in the second quarter. Saxton also had an interception in the second half.
“We had that play dialed up all week,” Saxton said of his score. “I just got open on green grass and it felt great, awesome.”
Mann caught his first TD pass of the game to knot the game up again. On fourth-and-5, Bunnell found him in the end zone from 13 yards out.
A defensive stand on fourth down gave the Bobcats the ball with 5:42 left in the second quarter. Enough time for another time-consuming drive. Twelve plays and 69 yards later Moser was scoring from four yards out. Sky View took a 20-13 lead into the break.
The Bobcats punted to start the second half, but another defensive stop got the offense the ball back. Hall fell on a fumble to give the top-seeded Bobcats the ball 21 yards from paydirt.
“I came around and it (ball) was there, so I was all right I’ll take it,” Hall said. “They (Panthers) are a great offense. We knew that and knew we had to play our best to win this. We showed out and did what we could.”
It took three plays for the Sky View offense to cash in with an 11-yard TD run. A failed extra point had the Bobcats up 26-13 midway through the third.
Pine View grabbed some momentum by blocking a punt, then getting a quick 30-yard TD pass to Mann to pull within 26-20 to end the third.
Sky View took a two-score lead again early in the fourth with a 2-yard TD run by Carlsen. It was the start to a wild fourth period.
Mann had his third TD reception to get the Panthers within 32-27 with 8:24 to play.
Three plays later Larsen took the ball on a fly sweep, picked up some big blocks and was off to the races for a 67-yard TD.
“It was a great play call,” Larsen said. “I had great blockers on the perimeter and I went and scored. I knew I wasn’t getting caught.”
Two-and-a-half minutes later McKenzie was hauling in a 40-yard TD pass to make in very interesting.
“That McKenzie is a straight up animal,” Saxton said. “They were really tough on offense.”
The Sky View coach went into the game not wanting a shootout, but it sort of turned out that way, especially the fourth quarter.
“It was a different kind of shootout as in we were taking four and five minutes off the clock and they were taking eight seconds,” Howell said. “Those two receivers are so explosive. We had planned for it, but we had to pressure more than we wanted to and that pressure created one-on-one matchups and that’s where they were able to break free a litle bit.”
But in the end Sky View made enough plays to repeat and deny Pine View its first title in seven attempts.
“It comes down to the last play, what more could you ask for,” Howell said.
BOBCATS 39, PANTHERS 33
Saturday at St. George
Pine View 6 7 7 13 — 33
Sky View 6 14 6 13 — 39
PV — Dominique McKenzie 3 run (kick blocked by Isaac Larsen), 10:49.
SV — Trey Nyman 22 pass from Kason Carlsen (kick blocked), 5:26.
SV — Titan Saxton 22 pass from Carlsen (Kasen Erickson kick), 10:59.
PV — Preston Mann 13 pass from Brayden Bunnell (kick good), 8:34.
SV — Truman Moser 4 run (Erickson kick), :46.
SV — Carlsen 11 run (kick failed), 7:04.
PV — Mann 30 pass from Bunnell (kick good), 1:31.
SV — Carlsen 2 run (run failed), 10:24.
PV — Mann 6 pass from Bunnell (kick good), 8:24.
SV — Larsen 67 run (kick good), 6:58.
PV — McKenzie 40 pass from Bunnell (kick failed), 5:54.