We were having a hard time stopping them, obviously, early in the game and we thought we got ourselves back in it, and that onside kick — yeah, it hurt. —Springville coach Willy Child
SALT LAKE CITY — No question about it, Lehi's onside kick to open the second half was a severe punch to Springville's gut in its 41-21 5A semifinal loss Thursday.
Down 34-21 at the half, after surviving the Pioneers' offensive onslaught in the first half, the Red Devils were set to receive the ball and an opportunity to cut the lead. But Lehi surprised just about everyone, electing for an onside kick, which was executed perfectly and led to a 41-21 lead, which proved to be the final score.
"We were having a hard time stopping them, obviously, early in the game and we thought we got ourselves back in it, and that onside kick — yeah, it hurt," said Springville coach Willy Child.
Giving up 442 yards of offense in the first half also hurt, as Lehi was able to play the game on its terms, which is something Springville wanted to avoid. Sure, the Pioneers let their foot off the gas for much of the second half, but most of the damage was done by then, with the Red Devils providing few answers.
The game worked in contrast to recent meetings between the two teams, including the Red Devils' 18-15 win earlier this season.
"They're a tough team and we play them every year," Child said of Lehi. "This is the first time they've gotten us, but they deserved this. They made us play their type of football, and that's not what we're used to."
Springville seemed able to match Lehi's high octane attack in the first quarter, which ended with Lehi leading just 27-21. Sean Holloway started off the Red Devils' scoring with a long 75-yard reception from Ty Eriksson, before Cole Bowers ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run on the next possession.
But the Red Devils couldn't maintain the pace and eventually fell behind while not mounting nearly enough in the three scoreless quarters thereafter.
Child did well consoling his players afterward, reminding them how much they accomplished despite the loss.
"We love them and these seniors, they've given everything they had for four years," Child said. "Not many people expected them to be here, (but) we overcame some adversity, some losses early in the year and kept believing in each other. We found a way to get back here. We're disappointed, but we're proud of our guys for building such a great program."