MANTI — "We outlasted them," said Bear River coach Chris Wise of his team's 56-28 win over the Manti Templars. Manti held a one point halftime lead, but with most of their players on the field both offensively and defensively, the Templars seemed to run out of gas late in the game.
The Bears took advantage of fresher legs to blow the game open in the second half. Bear River only ran 13 plays from scrimmage after the intermission. Five of those went for touchdowns.
Payton Wells scored on an 81 yard run with seven minutes to play in the third. Manti answered with a one yard TD run by Devan Fowles following a Bear turnover, but James Taylor hit Dax Sederholm in stride for a 65 yard TD pass that opened the floodgates.
Dax has been outstanding all season," said Wise. "When we've needed a big play he's been there. Our team sparks off that."
Bear River then scored three TDs on six plays, a 17 yard reverse by Sederholm, a 69 yard run by Aaron Spencer and a 68 yard run by Wells.
Manti wouldn't quit, putting together a 75 yard drive that was capped off by a 35 yard run by Fowles.
"We haven't played many teams that have that kind of heart," said Wise. "They play their hearts out and shake your hand afterward."
Bear River put the final nail in the coffin when Sederholm picked up a rolling kickoff on the one and went the distance for a 99 yard return.
The Bears averaged more than 15 yards per play, gaining 345 yards on 29 runs. Taylor completed three of four passes for 155 yards.
Wells led all rushers with 164 yards on five carries. He had two TDs. Spencer carried 11 times for 108 yards. Sederholm had one run and one pass reception, but both went for touchdowns.
Devan Fowles was the leading rusher for the Templars with 63 yards on 17 runs.
The victory advances Bear River to the second round of playoff action where they will travel to play the winner of Saturday's Wasatch versus Desert Hills game.