SPRINGVILLE — Springville High head football coach Scott Mitchell has probably never been happier to be sopping wet.
Mitchell's players doused him with Gatorade once, and the former NFL quarterback had to scramble to avoid a second dunking moments after his Red Devils held on for a 35-34 win over Region 8 rival Spanish Fork on Friday night.
"I'm kind of in a fog right now," Mitchell said. "I'm not totally sure I believe it yet."
The game was a roller-coaster, with big plays, 180 penalty yards and four turnovers. It seemed to be all but over when Zach Puckett picked off Spanish Fork quarterback Hayden Nielsen midway through the fourth quarter. On the ensuing possession, Red Devil quarterback Steve Bate found Jaylon Miyasaki for a 28-yard touchdown, giving the Red Devils a two-touchdown lead with 7:09 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Dons did not quit. Nielsen led his team on an 8-play, 64-yard drive, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Travis Still. After the Spanish Fork defense forced Springville to punt, Nielsen and the Spanish Fork offense got the ball back on their own 36 with 3:23 left in the game. After a roughing-the-passer penalty and several Nielsen rushes, the Dons found themselves at midfield with less than two minutes to play.
Facing third-and-short, the Dons called a QB sneak, and Nielsen broke free, running past the Red Devil linebackers and into the secondary for a 35-yard gain. Unfortunately for Spanish Fork, Still was flagged for being off-sides, and the Dons were flagged again for unsportsmanlike conduct for remarks made to an official after the play. Instead of first-and-10 on the 15, the Dons had to convert on fourth-and-17 from their own 44.
But Nielsen hit Still on the west sideline for a 21-yard pickup, and found the senior receiver again two plays later for a nine-yard score with 1:20 remaining. Instead of kicking an extra point, Spanish Fork elected to go for the win, snapping the ball to Still in the Wildcat formation. But the Springville defense smothered the wideout two yards short of the end zone, clinching the win for the Red Devils.
"That was big time," Mitchell said of his team's defensive stop. "It's good to have a game like this where it's back and forth and you have to battle and not let the emotion or momentum get away from you. That's how playoff games will be."
The individual performance of the night had to be Red Devil running back Marcus Case. The senior had 16 carries for 171 yards and two touchdowns, almost all in the second half. Miyasaki also had 117 receiving yards and two touchdowns.