ROY — The Dixie Flyers were just over a minute away from a celebratory 334-mile bus ride back to St. George.
But as it turned out, they lost the lead — and eventually the game — in the fourth quarter for the second straight week.
The victory didn’t come without some controversy, but the Royals capitalized on the opportunity to earn a 24-21 win Friday at Roy High School.
Trailing 21-17 and facing fourth-and-5 at the Dixie 31 with 1:24 to play, Parker Kingston’s pass appeared to fall harmlessly incomplete, which would have given the ball back to the Flyers. But a roughing the passer call sent Dixie (and former Fremont) coach Blaine Monkres into a frenzy and breathed new life into the Royals.
Setting up at the Flyer 16, Kingston took the next snap up the middle into the end zone to put the Royals on top for the first time since midway through the first quarter. The Roy defense then finished the job, forcing the Flyers to turn the ball over on downs in the waning seconds.
“(The roughing call) could have gone either way, but the refs liked us this game, I guess, and gave it to us,” Kingston said. “That really helped our momentum carry and we had to finish it off.”
Kingston said a read of the defense helped him punch in the final score.
“It was a read option and I saw that the defense was loading that side because they thought sweep, and I said, ‘All right, I’m going to keep this one’, and I kept it and scored,” he said.
Early on, Roy seemed on the verge of repeating its overwhelming offensive performance from a 49-7 win over Jordan a week ago. The Royals marched down the field in 13 plays after taking the opening kickoff, burning over half of the opening period, before sophomore Cooper Valencia punched it in from the 3.
The Flyers answered right back, going 89 yards on 12 plays with its opening possession. Bronsen Barben connected with Joshua Barney for an 18-yard scoring reception to tie it 7-7.
It went back-and-forth from there in what ended as a turnover-free game, with both defenses holding serve. The scoreboard didn’t change again until the 4:10 mark of the third quarter when Dixie’s Avery Anderson gave the Flyers their first lead on a 1-yard plunge.
After dropping a likely touchdown pass on a slant the previous possession, Roy went back to receiver Cade Harris on its next turn with the ball. The senior secured the ball this time on a similar play, taking the catch for a 44-yard touchdown to tie the score at 14.
“(Harris) is probably the best receiver in the state,” Kingston said. “He makes one mistake. He drops a ball because he didn’t get any all day and his hands weren’t warmed up. We go right back to him and he shows off.”
Dixie went back on top 21-14 on a 28-yard Barben to Shea Anderson completion early in the final stanza.
After a drive that featured a 42-yard toss from Kingston to Tytan Fernandes, and with the ball at the Flyer 10 on fourth-and-5, the Royals took a chance on their defense and Britton Watts drilled a 27-yard field goal to make it 21-17.
Roy gambled right, forcing Dixie into a three-and-out and setting the stage for the winning drive.
“We learned that we have a lot of heart, that we can finish any game that we’re in and that we can beat any team,” Kingston said. “We just have to trust our stuff and we’ll win.”