<strong>HYRUM—</strong> The clock struck zero and the Mountain Crest football team raced onto the field in celebration. Despite struggling to generate much offense and battling self-inflicted wounds the Mustangs had completed an improbable comeback win against Lone Peak.
Then came the controversial time out call giving Lone Peak one final chance at a victory, and senior Michael Smith delivered. With one second on the clock Smith kicked a 47-yard field goal – his first as a high school kicker – to hand the Mustangs their first loss of the season.
The time out was called as Lone Peak quarterback Baron Gajkowski scrambled to the sideline and was tackled as the clock expired.
“You will have to ask the referee on that one,” MC head coach Mark Wootton said. “It was a heartbreaker. In a game like that you always focus on the last play and it would have been nice to pull that one out.”
While the focus may be on the last play, there were certainly other plays that helped determine the outcome of the game. Penalties were very costly for Mountain Crest starting on the opening drive. After deferring the kickoff and pinning the Knights on the 10 yard line, Mountain Crest’s defense sacked Gajkowski on third and long only to have the sack erased from the books by the first of several personal fouls.
The Mustangs stayed close in the first half, despite two turnovers from quarterback Jamison Webb. The game stayed in a scoreless tie until Gajkowski scored the first of his two touchdown runs to take a 7-0 lead with 3:04 left in the first half.
In the second half Mountain Crest turned to running back Eddy Hall to spark the offense and he responded by leading the Mustangs on an 11-play 70 yard drive to tie the game with 4:48 left in the second quarter. While Gaje Ferguson scored the touchdown on a 4-yard run up the middle, it was definitely Hall who put the Mustangs on his back rushing for 56 yards on seven rushes on that drive alone.
“Eddy Hall is a warrior,” Wootton said. “He played great tonight.”
Lone Peak countered quickly, coming back with several big plays on the next drive including a 37-yard pass setting up a first and goal from the one. Gajkowski scored on the next play for his second rushing touchdown to take a 13-7 lead after Trevor Robb missed the PAT.
On Mountain Crest’s next possession, Webb threw an interception setting Lone Peak up with a short field. Gajkowski took advantage and put the Knights up 20-7 on a perfectly thrown pass to wideout Talon Shumway.
The Mustangs weren’t done, however, and began their rally with 9:49 left in the game by going 67 yards in 3:08 to trim the lead to 20-14 on diving touchdown by Hall. After a quick three-and-out forced by an energized Mustang defense, Hall took a punt and scampered 58 yards for what would have been the go-ahead score with 4:19 left in the game, only to have the play called back for a 12 men on the field penalty that gave Lone Peak a first down.
Mountain Crest held tough again, and got the ball back with 2:05 on the clock and the chance to cap a stunning comeback. Webb found his favorite receiver, Faimafili Laulu-Pututau, for several big plays including a 36-yard completion to set up first and 10 from the 16 yard line. Three incomplete passes set up a game deciding fourth down situation, and Webb came through with a touchdown pass to Pututau, which coupled with the extra point, gave MC a 21-20 lead.
With only 30 seconds left and needing to travel 71 yards, the Knights stormed down the field to win on Smiths field goal.
The Mustangs will try to shake off the disappointment of this loss with the preparations for next week’s opponent.
“One of the best parts about coaching is seeing how your team responds,” Wootton said. “We will see next week how the team responds, and when they respond well it is very rewarding.”
<em>Photos by Kimberly Shorts, video by Bowyn Olsen </em>