High school football: Spanish Fork flexes defensive muscle, beats rival Springville
SPANISH FORK — A year ago Spanish Fork's bid to knock off rival Springville ended in the final minute when it was stuffed on a two-point conversion attempt when kicking the extra point would've forced overtime.
In Friday's much-awaited rematch, Spanish Fork returned the favor by flexing its defensive muscles at the goal line.
Leading by a touchdown late in the first half, Spanish Fork stuffed Springville running back Mitch Paystrup at the goal line on four straight carries. The Dons quickly followed it up with a 99-yard scoring drive in 34 seconds, and they never looked back in a convincing 35-7 victory.
"It feels amazing," said Spanish Fork receiver Luigy Paulino whose 51-yard TD reception just before halftime was the dagger. "Springville's been our rivals for so long. I remember every down of every game."
As good as Spanish Fork's offense was, the defense was even better overwhelming a Springville team that threw the ball for 440 yards the week before. On Friday, Red Devil quarterbacks Steve Bate and Payton Thorpe combined for 13-of-33 passing for 132 yards and four interceptions.
Bate was forced to leave the game with a concussion on the last play of the first half, and the Red Devils offense stalled miserably without him in the second half. Realistically it might not have mattered. Spanish Fork physically dominated Springville from the opening whistle.
"In the trenches, it's a battle, and Springville has some tough guys, they'll bounce back and they're well coached. But I think tonight our kids maybe wanted it a bit more," said Spanish Fork coach Matt Christensen.
Springville quarterback Hayden Nielsen Bounced back from last week's subpar game by completing 15-of-26 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Andy Perkins accounted for one of those scores, while he also returned an interception 49 yards for the game's final score late in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Barclay's interception early in the first quarter set the tone for Spanish Fork. Starting with great field position at the 22, Perkins hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Nielsen to put the Dons ahead 7-0.
Nielsen increased the lead to 14-0 on 6-yard TD strike to Colin Argyle just a few minutes later.
After going the entire first quarter without a first down, Springville's offense finally got going early in the second quarter as Paystrup capped a 10-play scoring drive with a 6-yard TD run to whittle the deficit to 14-7 with 7:01 remaining in the half.
Springville's defense forced Spanish Fork into a quick three and out, but the Red Devils couldn't cap the ensuing 11-play drive despite four cracks from the one-yard line.
Despite being 99 yards from the end zone with only 63 seconds remaining in the half, Spanish Fork opted to "roll the dice" and the gamble paid off with a 99-yard scoring drive.
"After a big stop like that, a lot of people expect you to take a knee or run the ball and get it out of there. That was not our game plan. We have to attack them. If you have them on the ropes you've got to otherwise they'll come back and get you," said Christensen, whose team improved to 2-0 with the victory.
Springville, a 4A semifinalist the past two years, is a surprising 0-2 early in the season.
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