With five seconds remaining in Friday's first-round 4A playoff game, West Jordan was just a kick away from a victory over Clearfield.
With the score tied 7-7, the Jaguars lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt. But sophomore Jason Nelson's kick was blocked, and after a scramble for the ball, Clearfield's Jason Kirkman picked it up and rambled into the opposite end zone for a Falcon touchdown and a 13-7 victory."I really felt it was going to go into overtime," said Clearfield Coach Brent Lund. "But we used all our timeouts to psyche them out. We've blocked kicks all year. It's something we practice all the time.
"I've been at Clearfield for nine years now (three as head coach) . . . and we've just never had the luck. This year, our kids just believed something was going to happen."
The West Jordan coaching staff, on the other hand, couldn't believe what had just happened. While the Falcons were celebrating in the south end zone, Jaguar Coach Rick Bojack was pleading his case with the officials.
In the scramble after the blocked FG attempt, a West Jordan player was close to gaining possession when a Clearfield player clearly kicked the ball out of his grasp, a violation that - inadvertant or not - should have resulted in the winning TD being called back.
But the officials insisted to Bojack that none of them had seen the kick.
"It's too bad the game was decided on such a flagrant kick," said a calm but disappointed Bojack. "Everybody on the field saw it but the refs."
So Clearfield's win stands. The Falcons improve to 7-3 and move on to the second round, where they'll meet the winner of today's Orem-Olympus playoff in next week's 4A quarterfinals at Rice Stadium.
The loss ended West Jordan's hopes for its first winning season in school history. The Jaguars close out the season at 5-5.
Clearfield controlled much of the game, but had great difficulty putting any points on the board. In the first half, the Falcons ran 33 offensive plays to the Jaguars' 11, moved the ball inside the West Jordan 30 yard line four times and still went into the locker room tied at 0-0. Rather surprising, considering that Clearfield crushed West Jordan 35-9 in the second game of the season.
"It's just so hard to beat a team twice in the same season," Lund said. "Especially when you've won big the first time. It's hard to get the kids up."
Clearfield finally scored with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter when quarterback Travis Liefeste took the ball in from the 6.
West Jordan nearly answered right back on the ensuing drive when Bryan Johnson completed a 66-yard pass to Shawn Todd. Only a tackle by Kirkman at the 9 prevented a TD.
The Jaguars couldn't get the ball into the end zone, and a FG attempt by Nelson - a FG that could have later won the game - hit the left upright and bounced out.
But West Jordan scored two minutes later. After a fumble recovery and aided by a late hit and a face mask penalty on Clearfield, running back Mark Childrey took it in from the 2.
As for Kirkman, he was all over the field. A 6-2, 176-pound senior with "legitimate 4.6 speed" in the 40, according to his coach, he rambled for big gains as a running back and intercepted a pass in the first half as well as making that TD-saving tackle and scoring the winning points.