SPANISH FORK — The Trojans gave everything they had against a much bigger school. But in the end, Spanish Fork’s depth proved too much as it knocked Morgan out of the state 3A football playoffs with a 33-23 win on Friday night.
Morgan mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback after falling behind 33-10. The Trojans started the quarter with a nine-play, 62-yard drive that culminated in a three-yard scoring run by quarterback Ben Saunders.
Moments later, Ben Holland intercepted a tipped pass that was thrown by Dons’ quarterback Jason Money. Holland returned the ball 40 yards to the Spanish Fork seven, setting up Lantzen Toomer’s three-yard scoring plunge with 6:53 still left in the game.
Morgan’s two-point conversion try fell just short, leaving the Trojans 10 points behind.
With 3:25 left, the Trojans got the ball back again, this time at their own 7-yard line. They needed 93 yards for a touchdown and then an onsides kick to have any shot at a win. A tall order considering how Morgan’s offense had sputtered for much of the game.
But defying the odds, the Trojans managed to put together a very handsome-looking drive thanks to two nice runs by Saunders and a 23-yard pass play to Toomer.
With 2:28 remaining and the Trojans sitting pretty at the Spanish Fork 36 yard line, Morgan opted to go for a little trickery. Saunders found K.T. Tibbitts for a pass completion near the Morgan sideline. The intent was for Tibbitts to then immediately lateral the ball to a teammate trailing the play — the old hook and ladder. But as soon as Tibbitts caught the pass, he was hit by a defender and got spun around. So when the pitch came out, instead of going backwards, as the rules require, it flew five yards straight ahead — right into the waiting arms of Spanish Fork’s Colton Olsen, who returned it deep into Morgan territory to effectively end the game.
“We’re opening the playbook as deep as we can at that point,” Morgan coach Kovi Christiansen said.
The game started off promising enough for Morgan, with Camen Gray kicking a 31-yard field goal and Toomer catching a 10-yard pass for a touchdown to give the Trojans an early 10-0 lead.
But the wheels fell off in the second and third quarters. Too much of Dons’ quarterback Money as well as wide receivers Olson and Cam Money and running back Braxton Argyle. Behind those four players, the Dons reeled off 33 straight points.
“We’re not deep enough to hang with schools that have three times the population that we do,” Christiansen said. “You get to this point (in the season) and it makes it rough. Spanish Fork is good. They’re deep at every position and solid up front. Hats off to them. I hope they go far.”
The Trojans finish off their season with a 7-5 record, while Spanish Fork (11-1) will move on to the 3-A semis next week at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus.
“Every game these guys gave it everything they had,” Christiansen said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from them. Overall it’s been one of my favorite years coaching because of the types of kids we have and the heart they have. You can tell that losing bothers them. And it happened to us earlier than we wanted it to.”