SPANISH FORK — More than once, the Spanish Fork football team thought it had done enough to win its first-round playoff game against Mountain View on Friday, and more than once it looked like the Dons would lose.
But, somehow the game kept on going. Finally, after three long, grueling overtimes, the Dons emerged with a 56-48 win.
It wasn't official until Tyler Allred intercepted Mountain View's fourth-down pass in the end zone, leaving no chance for any more last-second fireworks.
"What an exciting game," said Spanish Fork coach Matt Christensen. "I knew this was going to be a shootout. I just had one of those feelings."
Spanish Fork came into the game with an accomplished defensive record in the regular season, but it never found a good answer for the Bruins' triple option attack. Mountain View rolled off yardage in big chunks and kept the Dons constantly off guard.
Led by quarterback Hayden Nielsen, the Spanish Fork offense was just as successful and generally had no trouble finding open receivers in its spread passing attack.
The predictable result was an offensive see-saw in which no lead was safe, and no amount of time seemed too short for a team to score.
"That's the most intense game I've ever played," said Dons running back PJ Inoke.
Late in regulation, it looked like Mountain View was on its way to a victory when the Bruins took an eight-point lead with just over a minute left.
But a short kickoff gave Spanish Fork decent field position, and the Dons needed only half of the remaining time to tie the game.
Nielsen found Travis Still open in the corner of the end zone and Inoke ran the two-point conversion in to force overtime.
Mountain View had the first OT possession but lost the ball on a fumble. Spanish Fork then moved the ball to the eleven-yard line, and sent on its field goal unit on to win the game. But, the kick sailed wide and the game continued.
In the second overtime time it was Mountain View that had a chance to win. Inoke scored on Dons' possession, but Spanish Fork came up just short on two-point conversion. When Bennett Maxwell rumbled into the end zone a few seconds later, the Bruins only needed an extra point to win, but the Dons surged through the line and smothered the PAT before it ever got off the ground.
Spanish Fork scored first in the third overtime on a 36-yard pass from Nielsen to Luigy Paulino. Inoke scored the two-point conversion before Mountain View ran out of downs.
The Bruins took an early two-touchdown lead and were up 21-14 at halftime. In what turned out to be a big sequence, they had a chance to score just before the half, but were stopped at the goal line.
The Dons scored 20 points in the third quarter and led 34-28 going into the final period, before Mountain View scored twice more in the fourth quarter.
Spanish Fork will face the winner of Bountiful and Orem in next week's second-round game.