We had them late in the game, but we made too many mistakes at critical times that cost us. —Wasatch head coach Steve Coburn
OREM – As far as season-opening high school football games go, the contest between the Timpanogos Timberwolves and the visiting Wasatch Wasps had a little bit of everything.
In a game that approached four hours in length from opening kickoff to final gun, Timpanogos held on against a strong Wasatch comeback and took the opener for both teams, 25-22.
The game saw two lengthy delays — one for a serious injury in the first half and the other for lightning shortly after the second half began. The weather delay seemed to work in the favor of the Wasps, who came out of the locker room 45 minutes later to threaten Timpanogos' once-comfortable lead.
“We had them late in the game, but we made too many mistakes at critical times that cost us," Wasatch head coach Steve Coburn said. "We were the better team in the second half. We won the fourth quarter, we just didn’t win the game.”
Shortly after Wasatch received the opening kickoff the rain began to fall. The natural-grass field quickly became slick and play by both teams got a bit sloppy, especially for the Wasps, who rely on their passing attack.
Wasatch quarterback Garrett Davis had a difficult time early on finding his receivers in the wet conditions and his team was forced to punt on its first three possessions.
Timpanogos, however, had no such problem using a ground game that caught the visitors off guard at the line of scrimmage. Halfway through the first quarter, Timpanogos running back Tyler Shade broke through the left side of the line, cut to the outside and scampered 72 yards for a touchdown. David Hurst converted the extra point kick and the home team was quickly up 7-0.
After a Wasatch fumble, Timpanogos took control of the ball near midfield and worked its way just inside the 20. Running back Jake Ware took a 1st-and-10 handoff and broke loose for a 19-yard touchdown run for a 13-0 advantage.
Seemingly on their heals, the Wasps turned the ball over again on a fumble early in the second quarter giving Timpanogos the ball near midfield. It was Shade again scoring on a long run — this time 61 yards — to put his team up 19-0.
On the failed PAT attempt, Timpanogos’ Ware suffered a knee injury and he was taken off the field by ambulance after 30 minutes.
After the break Timpanogos put together another scoring drive.
Quarterback Tyler Sweeten called his own number from the 5-yard line and scored on a keeper to give the home team a big 25-0 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Wasatch put together its first solid drive of the game after the T-Wolves kickoff. Running back Spencer Heywood delivered a couple of solid runs and Davis used his legs on a few plays before hitting receiver Carson Law with a 17-yard strike to put the Wasps in scoring position.
As the rain continued to fall — and at a harder pace as the game went on — Davis found tight end Cade Cloward in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Skyler Southam made the extra-point kick to make it 25-7.
Gaining some momentum, the Wasps put together another drive after Cloward recorded an interception, but could not convert a 3rd-and-1 inside the Timberwolves 25-yard line. Wasatch missed on a 40-yard field-goal attempt.
After the halftime break, Timpanogos took the kickoff as the rain started to let up slightly. Just over three minutes into the second half Wasatch forced a Timpanogos fumble, giving the Wasps the ball with good field position at the Timberwolves 34.
Mother Nature again intervened as lightning entered the area, halting the game. Both teams, the coaches and fans were asked to leave the field and seating areas for a mandatory 30-minute wait. During the delay, the storm seemed to let up and there was no serious danger of the game being canceled.
Once play resumed, Wasatch took the field with a sense of urgency and a nothing-to-lose attitude.
The drive from the 34-yard line only managed 17 yards before the Wasps attempted another field goal. The kick was wide, but Timpanogos was called for roughing, giving Wasatch a fresh set of downs.
This time the Wasps took advantage. Davis worked his way into the end zone on a keeper, giving the Wasps their second touchdown. The PAT was good and Wasatch had life at 25-14 with 4:03 left in the third quarter.
Timpanogos continued to keep the ball on the ground and was finding it difficult against the inspired Wasatch defensive front. A muffed punt wobbled out of bounds to give Wasatch the ball at the home team’s 33-yard line, but the Wasps were unable to capitalize after narrowly missing a 54-yard FG.
As the rain returned — this time falling in sheets in a blustery wind — Wasatch relied on a pair of Timpanogos turnovers to keep its hopes alive. A Wasp fumble recovery set up more solid running by Heywood, who finished off the scoring drive with a 1-yard burst with 7:37 left in the game. Wasatch, sensing a chance to tie the contest on a field goal later, converted the two-point conversion with a pass from Davis to Law, closing the gap to 25-22.
Timpanogos, looking for a way to slow the Wasatch momentum, took to the air on its next possession and was intercepted by Chase Adams at the Wasatch 34-yard line.
With time dwindling away, the Wasps went to strike quickly and Davis hit Law for a 38-yard pass that would have put the Wasps at the 1-yard line if not for a holding call. It was the straw that broke the camel's back for Wasatch.
In less than a minute they went from possibly having the ball at the 1-yard line with a chance to win to having a 4th-and-51 after a series of penalties.
“This is a tough one,” stated Coburn. “There’s some tears over there because guys know they didn’t make plays when we needed them. We had the chance to win it, but you can’t with penalties, dropped passes and missed field goals.”
Kenny Bristow is the sports editor and staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. and/or follow him on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.