Murray kicker Riley Murray delivered in clutch not once but twice in Tuesday’s three-way Region 6 play-in games to help his team snap a two-year playoff drought.
Both winning kicks at Cottonwood High School were 28 yarders and capped an exhausting but fulfilling day for the Spartans as they clinched Region 6’s No. 4 seed for the 5A playoffs.
Murray’s first field goal occurred with three seconds remaining in the second quarter as Murray eked out a 24-21 win over West in a wild half of football that featured five scoring plays of 44-plus yards.
Against Skyline, which had the luxury of resting during the Murray-West first half, Murray booted a 28-yard field goal during the Spartans' first possession in overtime to give his team a 17-14 lead.
Owen Madsen then sealed the win for Murray with an interception on the first play of Skyline’s overtime possession.
“He’s been clutch the last few games, I’m glad he finally found his rhythm,” said Murray coach Todd Thompson about his kicker.
With the win, Murray marches on to the 5A playoffs, and the reward is a Saturday first-round game against No. 1 Corner Canyon.
“The biggest thing is we want these kids to celebrate but then come back ready to work,” said Murray coach Todd Thompson. “It’s huge for our program to get back in the playoffs. It would be awesome to win, I just want to compete with them.”
Murray will be the big underdog against the Chargers, but it hopes to build on the momentum created in Tuesday’s doubleheader and go out and see what happens.
His 9-yard TD strike to Madsen tied the game at 21-21 with only 5:18 left in the game.
Murray’s defense forced a quick three to put the ball back in Hadley’s hands, and the sophomore QB then calmly engineered a 12-play game-winning drive that ended with Murray’s 28-yard field goal. The drive featured a clutch fourth-down conversion on a Logan Jones 6-yard run.
The win set up a rematch with Skyline, which Murray had been hoping for after losing to the Eagles 20-14 in a region game on Sept. 28.
“Our kids really wanted to play Skyline again. We had to take care of business the first game, and they wanted this game so bad,” said Thompson.1 comment on this story
In the second play-in game, Murray came right out and scored in three plays on a Madsen 8-yard TD reception for a 7-0 lead. Skyline matched it on a Jeremiah Johnsen 9-yard TD pass from Chris Dudley, tying the game at 7-7.
Later in the second quarter, Jaren Durfee put Murray back in front 14-7 on a 15-yard TD catch, but Skyline answered right back on a Hayden Hansen 21-yard TD catch, leveling the score at 14-14 with 7:38 left in the game.
Neither team threatened during the rest of regulation, which included two Skyline turnovers. Its third turnover in overtime sealed the win for Murray.