Templars thill home crowd again with 25-22comeback over Delta
By Matt Harris
MANTI—For the second week in a row, the Templars played a game that no one wanted to leave early.
Manti’s football team ended the regular season in style, mounting a comeback from a 12-point deficit to beat Delta on Senior Night, 25-22, last Friday. Senior quarterback Jax Parry completed two touchdown passes with two interceptions and senior running back Tyler Taukei’aho scored two more touchdowns on the ground. The Templars finished with 285 total yards.
Coach Cole Meacham was unavailable for comment.
Delta got the ball first and initiated a 17-play drive that took nearly the entire first quarter, ending in a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Parry completed a pass to Justesen, but it was fumbled and recovered by the Rabbits. Delta turned the turnover into points, engineering another run-heavy touchdown drive to go up 14-0.
The Templars finally got into the end zone midway through the second quarter when a big run by senior Tyson Brenchley set up a 5-yard run by Taukei’aho with a two-handed reach for the goal line to score.
Manti forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession and subsequently drove the field again and scored as Parry completed a left-side fade route to sophomore Keegan Strickland for the 10-yard score. A failed 2-point conversion left the lead in Delta’s favor, 14-12 at the end of the half.
Manti forced another fumble to begin the second half, but the Rabbits got it back with an interception on fourth down. A few plays later, Delta scored on another touchdown run from 30 yards for a 22-12 lead.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Parry threw another interception, and the Rabbits set up shop in Manti territory at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Manti managed to stop Delta’s drive and took possession with 11:41 remaining. Manti committed to the passing game as Parry spread the ball around the field, completing a critical pass on fourth down to Justesen to extend the drive before hitting him again in traffic in the end zone for a touchdown.
After stopping the Rabbits on offense one last time, Manti took over with 4 minutes remaining. Three minutes later, Taukei’aho took a handoff on a sweep outside on the left end and went all the way for a 15-yard touchdown run for Manti’s first lead of the game.
Delta very nearly stole the game right back on the kickoff return, which the Rabbits’ returner took all the way for a score, but two blocks in the back negated the touchdown and forced Delta back to their own 25. A few plays later, senior Adam Christensen made his senior night one to remember as he intercepted Delta’s final play to seal the game.
Manti ended the regular season with a 5-5 overall record, and more impressively a 4-1 record in Region 14. The Templars earned a No. 9 ranking in the final RPI, which sets them up with a road playoff matchup in the first round against San Juan.