SALT LAKE CITY It was fourth down and five with only 1:33 left in the game. The Leopards were trailing American Fork 10-7 and were sitting on their own 49-yard line. It was their last chance to keep the game going.
"I just did what coach told me and Danny threw a perfect ball," said senior wide receiver Matt Price when asked about his clutch 48-yard reception that helped lift East High over American Fork in true dramatic fashion by a score of 21-10.
East opened the game looking as though they weren't going to be stopped. Beginning on their own 30-yard line, the Leopards put together a drive that consisted of 11 plays. Seven of those plays were handoffs to starting running back Sunia Tauteoli, who racked up 56 yards rushing on the drive.
Tauteoli missed the first two games of the season due to a high-ankle sprain. He finished the night with 12 carries for 83 yards in his return debut.
With the game all square at halftime, it looked as though American Fork had the momentum to start the third quarter. Senior Evan Wright started things off by breaking three tackles on the kickoff return to find himself 47 yards up the field and into Leopard territory. The Cavemen pounded the ball all the way inside the Leopards' 5-yard line on seven rushes. But it was the strength of the East defense, led by senior lineman Steve Tuikolovatu, that put a stop to the Cavemen's progression. An incredible goal-line stand forced American Fork to settle for the field goal.
With the momentum now in East's favor, the Leopards' luck took a turn for the worst.
With 10:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, team captain John Webb was tangled up in an attempt to make a tackle. It is still unknown exactly what happened, but Webb remained on the ground for the better part of 20 minutes until he was taken off the field in an ambulance to Primary Children's Hospital.
When play resumed, American Fork was leading 10-7 and there was only 1:33 left in the game.
East had one last play to make something happen. On fourth down and five, senior quarterback Danny Tuai hooked up with senior wide receiver Matt Price for a 48-yard pass over the middle that sent Talley Stevens Stadium into an absolute frenzy.
Price was finally brought down at the three-yard line. Senior running back Ryan Shipp would finish off the drive with a three-yard run to give the Leopards the lead.
When asked about the play, an emotional Tuai replied, "As soon as John Webb went down, our team decided to step it up and get the job done for him. He's a kid that never takes a play off, we just had to get the job done for him."
The Cavemen had one last chance to put together a drive for the ages but their efforts were thwarted when senior QB Jordan Lusk was picked off by Matt Price and returned for a touchdown to all but seal the game. Price finished the night with three interceptions.
At the conclusion of the game, the entire Leopards' squad took a knee and bowed their heads in silent prayer for their team captain. The seriousness of Webb's condition is unknown at this point, though Coach Eldracher is optimistic that it isn't serious.