Prep football playoffs: Farmington outlasts West 10-7 on gutty final drive
FARMINGTON — There were 79 yards of pristine, green artificial turf between the West goal line and where Farmington took possession of the ball early in the fourth quarter of its 6A second-round playoff game Friday.
Trailing 7-3 and needing a touchdown, it turns out Phoenix sophomore quarterback Easton Wight had all the poise of an upperclassman on what may have been the biggest stage of his young career.
“We were looking to score, obviously; we were looking to waste some time, but we didn’t have to waste too much, because we knew we could trust our defense to get a stop if we did score fast,” Wight said. “Then we could get the ball back and run the clock out.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
Wight capped an 11-play, 5-minute, 35-second drive on a fourth-down strike to junior receiver Mitch Nielsen with 3:33 left in the game and No. 6 Farmington advanced to the quarterfinals with a harrowing 10-7 victory over the Panthers.
“I was just thinking it’s fourth down. Gotta get this, go to one of my best receivers, Mitch Nielson. He’s such a baller. I just threw it up there and gave him a chance and he came down with it,” Wight said. “We watched some film and other teams used that same thing so we knew we could come back with that play if we ever needed to.”
Nielsen did a fancy toe tap in the back corner of the endzone, clearly coming down in bounds with the clutch reception with it all on the line.
“We had to find a way to make plays; it starts with our offensive line, they balled out on that last drive,” Nielsen said. “I saw the way the defense was lined up and I was watering in the mouth. I was ready to catch that ball. I knew I could beat them. I had to make a play. Great ball by my quarterback. Couldn’t have done it without him.”
Farmington’s defense came up big earlier in the fourth quarter when the offense turned the ball over on downs at the West 49, finally stopping the Panthers at the 21 to set up the winning drive, beginning at the 9:08 mark.
“We had no doubt about our defense; they’ve been the guys all year,” Nielsen said. “They’ve come through for us all year, we knew they were going to do it again.”
After a relatively quiet first half, West led 7-3 at the break.
The Panthers took their opening possession on a 16-play, 7-minute, 35-second journey that ultimately ended in a missed 32-yard field goal.
No. 11 West (8-2) owned the ball for 10 minutes, 23 seconds in the first quarter and had nothing to show for it as the period ended in a 0-0 tie.
Farmington (8-3) finally broke the ice with a 19-yard field goal by Gavin Jensen midway through the second stanza and a 3-0 lead.
West answered on an 80-yard, 9-play drive when Masao Otuafi went over from 1 yard out with 1:40 left in the half.
In the second half, the Phoenix turned things over to the defense and got the only score they needed when it counted most.
“Our defense is the backbone of our team. They carry us week in and week out,” Wight said.
That and a gutty little sophomore quarterback.
Farmington will travel to face No. 3 Skyridge in the 6A quarterfinals.