BEAVER – After both teams put up a pile of points in their games last week — one in a victory, the other in a tough road loss — Beaver and Enterprise tangled in a defensive battle Thursday night.
With second place on the line in the 2A South race, it was easy to see why it mattered.
The Beaver defense made the stop on a fourth-down run with just under two minutes left and it held up in a 13-7 victory over Enterprise in the regular-season finale for both teams. Both teams finished with identical 4-2 records in 2A South and 6-3 overall, and they have to wait for Friday’s result between South Sevier and North Sevier to see if a three-way coin flip will be needed to determine seeding in the 2A playoffs.
“Our effort has always been good,” Beaver coach Steve Hutchings said. “My biggest worry has been our defense, and they really rose to the occasion tonight. We played a great defensive game, and we’re not going to win much trying to outscore people.”
Beaver got the ball first and started with good field position, driving from midfield to the Enterprise 1, but the Wolves came up with the goal-line stand, holding on fourth down to set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Beavers finally broke through the defensive struggle late in the first half when they drove 75 yards in just over three minutes as Dillon Smith scored on a 1-yard run with 32 seconds left. Enterprise nearly answered on the very first play after the kickoff, but Isaac Wallin’s 60-yard TD run was called back after he stepped out of bounds at the Beaver 32.
Ricky Ramos’ 52-yard field goal try on the final play of the half fell about a yard short of the crossbar.
The Wolves didn’t let that deter them as they finally got on the board with 1 minute, 9 seconds left in the third quarter when Wallin took a screen pass from quarterback Brandell Shumway, got to the sideline, and ran 23 yards to the end zone to tie the game.
“Beaver’s very tough, and I wasn’t expecting a defensive struggle,” Enterprise head coach Malin Williams said. “They do so many things offensively, they’re really hard to try and slow down.”
Beaver got a fortunate break on what proved to be the winning touchdown early in the final period. After a false start penalty pushed them back, quarterback Matthew Roberts threw a pass toward Brennon Hutchings that an Enterprise defender tipped off his shoulder pads, but Tavin Fails was there to grab the deflection and complete a 15-yard scoring play.
After Keaton Fails missed the extra point, the lead was only six with 8:58 still showing on the clock.
“Brennon saw he had a chance to tip it, and I dove and caught it,” Fails said. “We came together and played football hard tonight. Everyone came through big for us.”
Enterprise had a final shot at the win, starting from its own 30 with 4:21 left. A 30-yard run from Kelton Hunt ignited the march into Beaver territory, but a final run on fourth-and-4 was stopped two yards short at the Beaver 32. When Roberts ran for a first down, it was all Beaver needed to run out the clock and secure the win.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter, @Tomzsports.