Templars edge Hawks, 29-28,
in exciting rivalry game
By James Tilson
Oct. 12, 2017
MT PLEASANT—In a tenaciously fought, see-saw game, the Manti Templars ultimately prevailed over the North Sanpete Hawks last week by the score of 29-28.
Going in to the annual Sanpete County rivalry game on Friday, Oct. 6, highly anticipated by fans on both sides, there was a little extra anxiety for both teams.
Both squads were looking for their first conference win and were battling for play-off seeding. Since all schools in 3A qualify for the play-offs this year, the real question is who your opponent will be when the tournament starts.
The night seemed to start off well for the Hawks. They won the toss, and deferred to the second half. The Hawks played stingy defense on Manti’s first possession and forced a punt.
The Hawks immediately went to their ground game, including a heavy dose of Keegan Eliason, and found success. They moved the ball from their own 30-yard line into Templar territory, and were looking to score.
But the Templar’s Tanner Rasmussen, as he did last week, grabbed a fumble from the Hawk runner, and returned all the way for a Templar touchdown.
Undeterred, the Hawks stuck with the ground game and with Eliason on their next drive. They continued to move the ball, and this time, drove the length of the field for a touchdown, which tied the game at 7.
Encouraged by their success, the Hawks played spirited defense, and forced another punt from the Templars. On the very next play, Elison broke into the open and went 62 yards to make the score 14-7 for the Hawks.
The Templars girded their loins and struck back with their own big play. After the kick-off gave them the ball on the 20-yard line, the Templars handed off the ball to Dallin Rasmussen, who scampered around the left side of the line to the Hawk 21 for a 59-yard gain.
From there, the Templars pounded the ball the rest of the way in to tie the score at 14 by the beginning of the second quarter.
For most of the rest of the quarter, the two teams traded possessions without being able to score. However, late in the second quarter, the Hawks recovered a fumble on the Templar 45 with 3:34 remaining. The Hawks mounted a drive, hoping to score before halftime.
Once again featuring the running of Eliason, the Hawks drove down the field, battling the Templars and the clock. Finally, with 19 seconds left before half, Hawk quarterback Spencer Steadman connected with Mason Allred in the end zone to put North Sanpete ahead 21-14.
The second half began with the Hawks looking to take advantage of their winning the toss at the beginning of the game. They got the opening kick-off. However, they were not able to move the ball and had to punt after a three-and-out.
The punt by Elison was shanked and gave the Templars good field position at the Hawk 35-yard line. From there, the Templars moved down the field on the running of tailback Lance Fowles. The drive was finished off with a scoring pass from Manti quarterback Kyle King to Adam Huff to tie up score once again at 21.
Neither team was able to score the rest of the second quarter. But the Hawks took over at the end of the third quarter and began a drive that continued nearly to the halfway point of the fourth quarter and enabled North Sanpete to once again take the lead, 28-21.
This time, the Hawks used the punishing runs of fullback Eddie Davis, who continuously slammed into the left side of the Hawk line for 4-yard and 5-yard gains. It was Davis who cut through the center of the line from 1 yard out to score the touchdown that put the Hawks in the lead.
The Templars got the ball back with a little under 8 minutes remaining. A short kick-off and heady return by Tanner Rasmussen put the Templars in good field position at the 48 yard line.
Templar quarterback Kyle King began flinging the ball all over the field, moving the chains and completing three passes to put the Templars on the 1-yard line.
The Hawks defense stiffened up to stop the Templar’s first two attempts and to push them back by a yard. But on third-and-goal, King handed off to Tanner Rasmussen, who pushed through and scored the touchdown.
At that point, Templar coach Cole Meachum decided to go for the win. After taking time out to talk it over, Meachum once again gave the ball to Tanner Rasmussen, who was able to break through the Hawk defense and score the two-point conversion, putting Manti ahead 29-28.
With about 4 minutes left in the game, the Hawks had plenty of time to try to drive for a winning score. They started with Eliason again, at first with little gain. But the next play, a half-back pass from Eliason to quarterback Steadman, produced a gain of 25 yards and set up the Hawks on the Templar 46 yard line.
The Hawks went back to Eliason, but this time the Templar defense stuffed him for little gain on two plays. Facing third-and-nine, Steadman threw downfield but could not connect. On fourth-and-nine, Steadman was able to find Casey Christiansen, but the gain was not enough for a first down. The Templars took possession and were able to run out the clock.
“Both teams played really good ball,” said Manti coach Cole Meacham. “I was just pleased that our kids were able to finish strong at the end.”
Coach Rhett Bird of North Sanpete noted that some of his first string players were benched. “We had some younger guys step up, and they had a great game,” he said.
The game was one of the best offensive outings this season for the Hawks, with quarterback Spencer Steadman going 7 of 16 for 89 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception.
Keegan Eliason spearheaded the Hawk rushing attack, with 161 yards on 30 carries, while full-back Eddie Davis chipped in 53 yards on 11 carries.
The Hawks got 367 total yards of offense, which actually bested the Templars by more than 100 yards.
However, the Templars were able to take advantage of turnovers and big plays to keep abreast of the Hawks. Quarterback Kyle King went 7 of 12 for 67 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Running back Dallin Rasmussen got 85 yards on six carries; Lance Fowles got 53 yards on 15 carries; and Tanner Rasmussen added 20 important yards on four carries, including the winning score.
This week is the last week of the regular season, and both teams are in action. On Friday, the Hawks travel to Nephi to face the Juab Wasps. The Templars will be in Richfield facing the Wildcats on the same day. The time for both games is 7 p.m.