PAYSON — It went from a defensive game to a surefire double-digit win to a gut-wrenching finish — all in a matter of seconds for Juab.
In the end, the result was just as sweet for the Wasps.
Taren Wright rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown and threw for another score to lead Juab to a 29-21 win over Payson on Friday night.
With Juab leading Payson (1-3) 29-13 with just over three minutes left, Payson's Zach Loveless returned the kickoff 90 yards for a score.
"After (the touchdown), we started to feel our morale drop," said Juab running back Ryan Worwood, who also rushed for 76 yards. "But if we let that happen, there was no going back. So we just had to pick it up."
After a successful two-point conversion, the Lions lined up for an onside kick. The kick bounced off a Juab player, and for one paralyzing moment for the Wasps it bounced in Payson's direction.
"Once it got bottled up, I was just in shock," Worwood said. "I was like, 'No, no, no, no, please! We've got to get it. We have to get it!'"
But two Wasps jumped on the ball, and when the crowd cleared, Juab had possession and was able to run out the clock.
"That was scary," Wright said. "I was stressing a little bit."
It was the end to a particularly wild fourth quarter — one that seemed as if it would be fairly pedestrian after Juab ran more than six minutes off the clock on a bruising 12-play, 68-yard scoring drive.
Leading 14-13, the Wasps pushed the ball up the field exclusively on running plays.
"We wanted to wear them down," Juab coach Mike Bowring said. "We felt like they were bigger, but we felt like even though we weren't quite as big, we had a pretty good crew. I can't give our line enough credit."
As the Wasps approached the goal line, Worwood went down with his knee injury. Juab then turned to Wright, who got the last yard for a touchdown.
With a 20-13 lead, Bowring shocked the Lions by going for two points, risking the chance that Payson could tie the game with a touchdown and an extra point.
But Wright took the ball and ran into the end zone, giving Juab a two-score cushion at 22-13.
"We have a coach who trusts us and believes in us and thinks we can do anything," Wright said. "If we have to go like that to catch the other team off guard, he'll do it."1 comment on this story
Juab's ensuing kickoff bounced free and Juab recovered — an unintentional onside kick. A few plays later, Wright took a pitch from Juab quarterback Brock Orme, stood up, and threw a pass 12 yards into the end zone — finding John Dykster for a touchdown.
Juab took an early 7-0 lead when Spencer McPherson picked off an errant pass from Payson quarterback Clint Bateman and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown.
But Bateman and his teammates recovered, scoring 10 unanswered points to take a 10-7 lead on a touchdown from Bateman to Colton Jewett.
The Wasps answered with a 1-yard score from Worwood to take a 14-10 halftime lead.
Brady Loveless rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries for Payson, and Bateman had 49 yards on 12 carries.