WEST JORDAN A team that desperately needed a break to go its way finally got one late in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Fortunately for Copper Hills, the team got a second one, too.
Grizzlies' players and fans are probably still smiling after capitalizing on the even bigger/incredible/lucky bonus break they ended up with in the final 90 seconds of their fortuitous and hard-fought 30-26 victory over Hunter.
After leading for most of the night, Copper Hills (4-3, 1-1) fell behind when Hunter's Equasi Tavo returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Wolverines up 26-22 with 9:34 remaining.
The Grizzlies then drove deep into Hunter territory, but Wolverine defensive back Chris Harris picked off a pass on the goal line to preserve the lead.
That's when Copper Hills, which had lost two straight and appeared en route to another defeat, got its gift-wrapped breaks.
Break No. 1: The Grizzlies forced Hunter to punt, but the snap came low and Copper Hills players swarmed the Wolverines' punter on the 13-yard line.
But Hunter stuffed Copper Hills on fourth-and-1 just 4 yards away from the end zone with 1:29 remaining.
Game, set, match for Hunter, right? Not quite.
Break No. 2 for Copper Hills: Trying to run the clock down with a safe play, Hunter quarterback Adam Christensen plunged into the line but the ball popped out. It was redemption time for Copper Hills' Kendrick Moeai, who recovered the fumble after getting stopped on his fourth-down rushing attempt just three seconds earlier.
Copper Hills quarterback Jake Lisonbee made sure the Grizzlies didn't blow this opportunity, scoring on an 8-yard keeper with 1:16 left. He also completed a two-point pass.
Junior defensive end Clint Jex then racked up two of his four sacks to prevent Hunter from getting anymore breaks.
"I thought it was over. I was expecting them to kneel it. ..." he said. "Our defense fought really hard. We were tough. We didn't get scared."
Hunter coach Wes Wilcken, whose team dropped to 1-6, 1-1 in Region 3 play, also thought it was over.
"This team has shot ourselves in the foot all year long. It's heartbreaking because they played their guts out," he said. "We tried to do something safe. When it popped on the ground, I about died."
That Hunter even made a game of this was a silver lining. The Wolverines played most of the second half without their standout running back, Muka Atiga. He rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns in the first half before suffering a knee injury three plays into the third quarter.
Moeai finished with two touchdowns, including a 72-yard burst, and Lisonbee had a 65-yard shovel pass go for a score to Damian Tippets. But all that happened in the first half. Both defenses stiffened up and played tough in the second half, leading up to the crazy finish."It's a great win for our school. I'm happy for the kids and the community," said Copper Hills coach Art Erickson. "Our defense shut them out and played extremely well in a game with high emotions on both sides."