Templars overpower rival Hawks 27-17
MANTI—Going in to last Friday’s football game at Manti, North Sanpete coach Rhett Bird noted that the Hawks hadn’t beaten the Templars on the football field since the early 1990s.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten Manti.” he said. “We’re ready to make that change.”
With less than a minute left to play in drizzly wet weather, it looked like the Hawks would put an end to that loosing streak with their 17-14 lead.
The Templars had different ideas. Facing a third and four with time running out, Manti quarterback Marshall Dotson found Kaden Kirkman open down the middle for a 43-yard touchdown pass that gave Manti the lead and ultimately the win. The final score was Manti 27, North Sanpete 17.
Both Manti and North Sanpete were coming off tough losses the previous week, and Bird was looking for renewed energy from his players. “We’ve been a little down,” he said. “We want to start with a lot of energy tonight. We’re ready for this game.”
The Hawks started off well, but the momentum was short lived. North Sanpete picked up a first down on their second play of the game. A holding penalty backed them up and quarterback Chance Clawson dropped back for a pass. Manti’s Eli Butler had Clawson scrambling and Tanner Rasmussen stepped into the passing lane for an interception.
The Templars moved the ball to the Hawk 6-yard line for a first and goal, but the North Sanpete defense held. Penalties again hurt the Hawks who punted the ball away.
A Manti pass to Cooper Parry converted a third and long. Solid running by Lance Fowles, Mac Stevens and Austin Robinson once again had the Templars looking at a first and goal from the six. Fowles carried it through heavy traffic into the end zone for the first score of the game.
Facing a fourth and short on their own 22, the Hawks lined up as if to punt, but snapped the ball short to Waylen Atkinson who connected with Jake Wright for an 18-yard pass and a first down.
The Hawks were looking at third and 11, and it looked like the Templars would be able to stop the North Sanpete drive. But Clawson saw Atkinson had a step on the Templar defensive secondary and threw a perfect strike to allow Atkinson to pull in the pass in stride for a 61-yard TD that tied the game at seven.
Manti’s final drive of the first half stalled when Hawk defenders Jaxon Jensen and Samuel Sevy caught Dotson in the backfield to force a Manti punt. Again facing a fourth and 11, the Hawks lined up to punt. Remembering the fake punt that led to a North Sanpete score, the Templars showed some confusion and were flagged for having too many players on the field.
A defensive holding penalty again hurt the Templars and allowed the Hawks to move the ball to the Manti 11 where they spiked the ball to stop the clock with three seconds left in the half. Kelton Christensen booted the 27-yard field goal to give North Sanpete a tenuous 10-7 lead at the half.
It appeared that the Hawks came out of the locker room with the energy Coach Bird had been looking for. North Sanpete held Manti to a three and out and then marched down field on runs by Atkinson and Haden Poulson. A 22-yard run by Atkinson set up a 2-yard plunge by Poulson for a TD and a 10-point North Sanpete lead.
On their next possession, the Hawks were stopped at the Manti nine, where a field goal attempt went wide right.
The fourth quarter would belong to the Templars. Facing another third and long, Dotson couldn’t find an open receiver and was forced to scramble, gaining 18 for the first down. A pair of Hawk penalties helped Manti move into scoring position where Fowles carried it in from the two.
Still trailing by three, Manti’s defense stepped up to hold the Hawks. Stevens and Seni Latu caught Hawk runners in the backfield twice to force another North Sanpete punt.
With just over 2 minutes left in the game the Templars were 74 yards away from a game-tying field goal or a go-ahead TD. Mixing it up on offense, Manti crept closer to pay dirt, but looked like they might stall out as the clock wound down.
Facing another third down, Dotson dropped back to pass and found Kirkman wide open down the middle for the go-ahead TD. The ensuing kickoff was a squib that bounced and tumbled across the wet grass to about the North Sanpete five where it was mishandled and squirted into the end zone to be pounced on by Cort Olson to give Manti the 27-17 victory.
North Sanpete carried the ball 41 times for 223 yards, nearly five and a half yards per carry. Atkinson had 156 yards on 23 runs. Poulson carried 10 times for 44 yards. Clawson connected with five different receivers, and the Hawks completed six of 12 passes for 122 yards, a total offensive output of 345 yards.
Manti rushed 43 times for 193 yards. Stevens had 85 yards on 16 carries, Fowles had 40 on 11 runs, Rasmussen carried for 34 yards, Dotson rushed for 22 and Robinson added 14.
Dotson completed seven of 10 passes for 94 yards. Stevens caught four for 20 yards, Parry had two receptions for 31 yards and Kirkman had the 43-yard TD catch. Manti had a total of 287 yards in offense. Rasmussen and Robinson each had an interception.
Both Manti and North Sanpete will have key region matchups this week. North Sanpete will host Richfield. The Wildcats have yet to win a game in 2016 and have lost their last seven games by an average of 22 points per game. Still, the Hawks can’t afford to look past Richfield. With their 0-2 region record they need this win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Manti will be hosting Delta. The Rabbits are 1-1 in league play with a 32-12 win over North Sanpete and a 29-7 loss to Juab. A win over Delta would go a long way toward earning the Templars another trip to the post season.