Hawks make dramatic comeback to defeat Rabbits

marcy curtis / messenger photo
The Hawks’ defensive players #24 Kasey Curtis and #19 Cameron Bronson do their best to stop Delta’s #10 Josh Jackson from moving forward. 

DELTA—It will be a long time before any North Sanpete football player forgets what happened last Friday night.

What started with the Hawks on the wrong side of a potential rout turned into the most dramatic comeback in recent North Sanpete history as they rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the rival Delta Rabbits in overtime, 34-28, last Friday. The win moved the Hawks to 2-1 on the season.

Before the Hawks had the chance to blink, Delta had put up a convincing lead, 14-0, on North Sanpete with a pair of touchdown drives that were only a single play each, but that was when Coach Rhett Bird had an honest conversation with the team.

“I just told the kids, ‘Hey, this is the time that we’re going be able to see what type of character we have,” Bird said. “The kids responded…they trusted each other, and the belief factor started to play into it when we saw [Allan] scramble and make some plays.”

With senior quarterback Landon Bowles going down with a hand injury early in the first quarter, junior wide receiver Ty Allan filled in at quarterback and showed every bit the “gamer-like mentality” that Bird described. Allan completed 25 of 34 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for another touchdown.

After struggling to get loose in the first two games, the Hawks looked region-ready in the run game as senior Xander Shelley rushed for 36 yards on five carries with a touchdown, and senior Dakoda Harward led all rushers with 42 yards on eight carries.

The Hawks finally got on the board after the second Delta score, a drive with two types of frustration. First, they only got three points on the board with a field goal by senior Dante Lowe after a touchdown pass was negated by a penalty. Secondly, Bowles got injured, leaving the offense in the hands of Allan.

“[Allan]’s a heck of a basketball player,’ Bird said, “and he was honestly playing the game last night like he was a point guard, getting outside the pocket and delivering the pass.” 

After their initial lightning scores, Delta responded to the field goal with a 14-play drive entirely on run plays, culminating in a five-yard touchdown run to put the Rabbits up, 21-3.

With a few minutes to go in the half, Allan and the Hawks came alive, driving downfield for a touchdown pass to Kolby Robinson with two minutes left.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lowe fooled the entire Delta special teams unit with a pooch kick off the Rabbits, which the Hawks recovered for an extra possession. That turned into a one-play drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Andy Mower to make it 21-17. The Hawks had even another chance at scoring before the half ended, but fell just short on a screen pass inside the 15.

marcy curtis / messenger photo
North Sanpete’s Xander Shelley rushed for 36 yards against the Delta Rabbits on Friday night.

After halftime, the Hawk offense continued to chug downfield, but an intentional grounding call stalled the drive. A great game by Lowe in special teams continued, as the kicker buried a 46-yard field goal. 

Delta broke through coverage on the ensuing possession for a long touchdown run, but North Sanpete again got downfield for a five-yard touchdown on the ground up the left side by Allan. The Hawks then broke through on a keeper by Allan for the two-point conversion to even the score at 28-28.

Late in the fourth, Delta moved downfield for a potential go-ahead score, but after they crossed midfield, North Sanpete’s defense turned the heat on and forced a turnover on downs, putting the ball in the hands of the offense for the last possession of regulation. 

Allan forced the ball down to the 30-yard line with a few seconds remaining, setting up a 47-yard field goal attempt by Lowe, but the kick was blocked by a host of defenders to force overtime.

North Sanpete got first possession in overtime, and the first play couldn’t have been worse as Allan was sacked for an 18-yard loss, followed by a false start for another five yards. Undeterred, Allan completed a pair of passes to earn it all back and pick up the first down. On the very next play, Shelley took a pitch play up the right side and bruised his way through to a 14-yard touchdown run.

To make things a bit more intense, Lowe shanked the extra point, giving North Sanpete a precarious 34-28 overtime lead.

With North Sanpete on defense for the closeout, the Hawks forced no gain on two plays. Then on third down, Delta tried to fool the defense with a pass play, but not before Mower burst in from the linebacker position and threw Delta’s quarterback into the grass, forcing fourth and long.

With Delta now forced to attempt a pass, Delta dropped back one more time, and senior Cameron Bronson got through his blocker to get to the quarterback, wrestling him down to win the game and send North Sanpete’s entire team and coaches charging onto the field jumping for joy. 

Even Bird had both feet off the ground for a moment!

Bird reported that several alumni, namely Cole Mickel, Dallon Steadman and Trevin Morley were in the visiting stands to watch the Hawks make the comeback, echoing the miracles of recent years’ victories that they had been a part of.

“This game’s going to hold that equal value with this team,” Bird said. “It’s a huge step forward that this team made as far as sticking with it, playing with passion…it was a huge game.”

The Hawks non region grind doesn’t get any easier as they’ll be at home against Grantsville next Friday. The Cowboys are coming off their first win in a 42-14 rout of Manti.