SALT LAKE CITY — Leading 18-9 midway through the final quarter, the Judge Memorial Bulldogs seemed to have their game with Pine View in hand.
Trailing 18-16, the Panthers recovered the ensuing onside kick and drove 37 yards to the Judge 13-yard line to set up the attempted game-winning field goal.
On a wet and slippery night, the kick sailed wide right as the Bulldogs held on for an emotional 18-16 win.
"As crazy as it sounds, with two minutes left, I just told the guys to go out there and win it," Judge coach James Cordova said. "We were cramping up and we had second- and third-string defensive backs that made enough plays for us to get the win."
The Judge defensive backs were under pressure all night from Wilstead, as the BYU-bound QB racked up 151 yards on 11-20 passing in the first half.
Judge cornerback Michael Kearns, who scored the game's opening touchdown on a 62-yard run, talked about the pressure of facing a QB the likes of Wilstead.
"We've been waiting for this game. I love defense and I wanted to play against him," Kearns said.
While much of the hype surrounded Wilstead, it was Judge QB Ayden Auer who made several plays in the fourth quarter that really swung the game in favor of the Bulldogs.
Facing a fourth-and-6 near the 25-yard line of the Panthers, Auer found himself out on the left flat on a QB keeper. When the pressure came, Auer reversed field, ran 30 yards to his right, and found receiver Noah Hill for a 21-yard gain.
One play later, Auer scored on a 4-yard run.
Leading 16-9, the Bulldogs went for a curious two-point conversion.
And they converted, as Auer found Sport Falamaka for the 18-9 lead.
"That bootleg was unbelievable," Cordova said. "Ayden showed great composure, great mental toughness, great focus and the ability to get that play done."1 comment on this story
With light rain falling throughout much of the contest, both teams had turnover problems.
The teams failed to do any damage on their first drives, but Pine View fumbled a snap on its second possession, and one play later, Kearns made the Panthers pay with a 62-yard run that left every defender in the dust.
"That was the other 10 guys on the field and they made every single block on the field and gave me a huge hole," Kearns said.
Judge senior Max Barnett said the win gives Judge a ton of confidence heading into next week's showdown with Woods Cross.