Templars upset rival Hawks,
32-29, in exciting overtime
By Matt Harris
MANTI—Manti’s football Coach Cole Meacham was feeling a bit like 2012 last Friday night.
Giving vibes of the kick that brought the Templars a state championship eight years ago, it was the kicker, Manti senior Seth Cornelson that brought the cheers of victory from the Templars’ loyal fans as he drilled a 31-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Templars to a huge upset win at home against rival North Sanpete, 32-29. It was Manti’s first win over the Hawks since 2017.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Meacham said. “Our kids played really solid. North Sanpete’s a very, very good team. I think we played about our most complete game of the year, though.”
The Templars scored in a variety of ways as seniors Tyler Taukei’aho and Austin Cox each scored a rushing touchdown, while senior Tyson Brenchley scored on a kickoff return, and sophomore Larsen Pogroszewski scored on an interception.
Speaking of interceptions, the Templars had a bunch of them. Manti intercepted five passes on the night.
“We played man defense and just told our guys, ‘try and get in position if you can,’” Meacham said. “They threw the ball quite a bit, and our kids got after it.”
Despite continuing to play without a number of starters, the Hawks came to play and were in position to win the game on multiple occasions. Sophomore quarterback Ty Allan started his first varsity game as a Hawk and was fearlessly slinging the ball all over the field. He completed 14 of 34 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns and four interceptions.
“I thought [Allan] did everything he could to keep us in the game and give us an opportunity to win the game, but with that comes lessons as well,” North Sanpete Coach Rhett Bird said. “We made some mistakes, but we are better because of them at the end of the day.”
Allan’s favorite target, senior Cole Mickel, caught seven passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns and caught another pass for a 2-point conversion. Seniors Magnus Clawson and Brady Jacobsen each caught a touchdown. Jacobsen also was tested in the quarterback position, but he threw an interception after only two attempts.
Sophomore PJ Cook filled in the hole at running back and had 10 carries for 26 yards as the Templars neutralized the run game of the Hawks.
Manti did not have official stats posted at press time.
The Templars and the Hawks engaged in a slugfest from the first snap as Manti’s game-opening drive was a mixed bag of big plays on offense and defensive stonewalls. The Templars got down inside North Sanpete territory before the Hawk defense knocked the ball loose from Taukei’aho’s grip and recovered the fumble at the Hawks’ 23-yard line.
Allan’s first shot at quarterback to start the game led to a 3rd-and-10 situation, with fans wondering how the young player would respond. The sophomore answered with a 25-yard completion to Mickel to extend the drive, yet a failed attempt on fourth down nulled the drive and gave possession back to Manti, with both teams eventually going scoreless in the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, North Sanpete faced yet another big decision on fourth down on the Manti 32-yard line. Once again, Allan aired the ball out and dropped it into the hands of Clawson for a touchdown catch of 32 yards.
Manti answered on the next drive as sniper quarterback Jax Parry completed a pair of impressive long completions before Taukei’aho ran a right side sweep and dove into the endzone for a 5-yard score.
On the Hawks’ next possession, Allan completed another rainbow pass, this time to Jacobsen for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead. North Sanpete’s lead lasted all of 20 seconds as Brenchley turned on the afterburners for a 94-yard kickoff return touchdown, followed by a fake on the after point as sophomore placeholder Bryce Boehrer completed the 2-yard pass to senior Tanner Justesen for a conversion and the 15-14 lead.
Just before the end of the half, Manti got down to the North Sanpete 1-yard line for a first down. North Sanpete put everything they had into a goal-line stand, stopping the Templars three times at the line of scrimmage, but Cox burst through the left edge on 4th-and-goal to get the score and a 22-14 halftime lead.
Coming out of halftime, Bird switched out for Jacobsen at quarterback for a play, and the result was immediately negative as the senior threw a pick to stop the Hawks’ first drive.
Near the end of the third quarter, Allan threw his second interception as he paid the price on a deep attempt, picked off by Pogroszewski.
On North Sanpete’s next offensive possession, Allan was picked off again as Pogroszewski nabbed his second interception and took it back 45 yards for a touchdown and a 29-14 after the first play of the fourth quarter.
Facing a two-touchdown deficit, North Sanpete marched downfield and scored on a signature Mickel-style touchdown as Mickel caught a pass from Allan and dragged defenders into the end zone for a 33-yard score
After North Sanpete made a critical stop on defense with under five minutes remaining, Allan aired the ball out on the Hawks’ following drive and connected with Mickel again. Mickel again wrestled free of his Manti defender and charged into the end zone for a touchdown. Mickel then caught the conversion for two points more to tie the game at 29 with 3:17 remaining.
Then, for the next three minutes, chaos ensued of the kind best suited to a rivalry game.
Parry attempted to attack the Hawks through the air, but Clawson picked off the pass, followed by Allan throwing his third interception as Cox picked it off. Two plays later, Parry fumbled the ball on a sack, recovered by North Sanpete. North Sanpete then went 3-and-out and punted to Manti, after which the Templars drove to midfield, called a timeout with a second of regulation remaining, and then knelt to end the fourth quarter.
On the first play of overtime, Allan rolled out right and threw to the middle of the field for Clawson for a pass that would be easily intercepted by Justesen for Allan’s fourth interception.
After a few run attempts, Cornelson stepped onto the field on third down and delivered the game-sealing kick from 31 yards.
While Manti moved to 4-5 on the season (perhaps the most dangerous 4-5 team in the state), North Sanpete fell to 7-2 and is left looking at how to prepare for what was supposed to be a deep playoff run this year. Junior quarterback Landon Bowles is expected to be out next week, and possibly longer.
“I’m not concerned about pieces going into the playoffs because we have seen some great things out of our young guys,” Bird said. “Our keys to success moving forward will be taking care of the ball and playing good defense.”
North Sanpete finishes their regular season on Wednesday this week playing Union at home. The Templars will host Delta on Thursday.