MAGNA — The word crazy was uttered over and over again on the Cyprus sideline, but it wasn’t because the Pirates didn’t believe in themselves. It was purely from the sheer momentum switch that occurred over the final 13:15 of Friday night’s bout between Cyprus and Spanish Fork.
And in the end, the Pirates came out with a 35-34 victory that moved them to 4-0 — a start they haven’t enjoyed since 2007.
“That was the most fun in a game I’ve ever had,” said Cyprus quarterback Parker Meldum.
The slinger tossed three scores and ran for another in the final quarter to bring Cyprus back from a 21-point deficit. He scored the Pirates' first score as well on a 1-yard burst in the second quarter.
“We struggled a lot in the first half and couldn’t execute,” said Meldrum. “We told ourselves that’s how the old Cyprus played, and this is the new Cyprus.”
It wasn’t just Cyprus’ offense that turned a corner, but also its defense. The defense watched Spanish Fork quarterback Parker Swenson hit his stride and toss four scores to give the Dons a 28-7 lead with eight minutes left to play in the third quarter.
Swenson was rolling behind his line that gave him ample time to find wide-open receivers. Dallas Eyere was the recipient of three of those strikes, while Noah Conway grabbed another.
“Spanish Fork’s offensive line did a great job tonight, and kept us on our heels,” said Cyprus coach Jed Smith. “We finally settled down and made some plays.”
The momentum shift over the fourth quarter started in the waning minutes of the third after Swenson’s pass tipped off his own player’s hands and into the open arms of Cyprus’ Isaia Sedillo. That proved to be a key boost for Cyprus as the next three Spanish Fork possessions included a failed kick recovery and two punts.
Meanwhile, Cyprus’ line bought Meldrum all the time he needed to find open receivers and make big plays. Meldrum found a groove that matched Swenson’s and was pivotal in the rally.
“When Parker stops thinking, he’s a heck of a player,” said Smith. “He just needed to settle down. But really this was a collective effort.”
Part of that collective effort included kicker Ivan Ortiz, who booted home what proved to be the game-winning PAT, despite having to do so from farther than usual after his team accrued two false starts and a holding penalty. That gave Cyprus a 35-28 lead with just over three minutes left to play.2 comments on this story
Swenson did all he could in the final stretch, marching his team down the field and scoring with 36 seconds left after Marco Williams punched it in from 6 yards out. The Dons opted to go for the win, but Swenson was brought down short of the goal line as the Cyprus defense preserved the come-from-behind win.
“I tell you what, we tell our team every day at practice why do we conditioning,” said Smith. “It’s to win, and our conditioning really paid off down the stretch tonight because that was a tough game.”