Two wins are all that separate Dixie from repeating as state champions as the Flyers survived a late Pine View rally Friday to come away with a 28-23 victory at home in the quarterfinals of the 3AA playoffs.
Tre Miller ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns to lead the offense and the defense came together in the final minute to preserve the win and send Dixie into the semifinals next Friday against Tooele.
“I felt pretty good because my offensive line was amazing tonight,” said Miller, who found the end zone three times in the first half to give his team a boost it would need to fend off a very capable Pine View squad. “They made a lot of holes and just got me to the second level.”
Anyone who saw Pine View’s final two region games this year would not have been surprised that the Panthers were still fighting for a win despite trailing by 12 points with less than three minutes to play.
They nearly erased a 14-point deficit in the final minute against Cedar on Oct.9, losing on the game’s final play, and lost again two weeks ago in the waning seconds on the very field they in which they found themselves on Friday.
But as familiar as the situation was, unfortunately for the Panthers so was the result.
Trailing 28-16 with 54 seconds to play, Riley Livingston hit Steve Bangerter for a 20-yard touchdown to cut the Flyers’ lead to just five points.
Pine View recovered the ensuing on-side kick at the Dixie 47-yard line and had all the momentum it needed to pull off the comeback.
But Malachi Fakahua sacked Livingston on first down and the quarterback threw three consecutive incomplete passes to turn the ball over to the Flyers with :28 left, ending the rally and giving Dixie the win.
“I won’t lie, I was pretty nervous,” Harrah said of watching the final Pine View drive unfold from the sideline. “But our defense held them and we came out with the win. I’m glad we had it in us to seal the win.”
It was Miller’s running that put the Flyers in control during the second quarter after both offenses sputtered for the better part of the first.
The first four possessions of the game produced a grand total of 31 yards as the teams struggled to get into their rhythms.
They eventually got it together and Dixie mounted a 96-yard drive capped by Miller’s first score that gave the Flyers a 7-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter.
The drive was highlighted by a 43-yard run from Miller and a 28-yard catch from Hobbs Nyberg.
Pine View would answer quickly however, going 71 yards in less than four minutes and tying the score on a two-yard run from Kobe Topalian.
Mason Oki intercepted Livingston late in the second quarter to set Miller up for a 26-yard score that pushed the lead to 14-7.
Miller found paydirt again with :52 left in the half from a yard out and Dixie led 21-7 at the break.
A Connor Brooksby field goal in the third quarter made it 21-10 and Bangerter made a highlight-reel touchdown catch early in the fourth to make it 21-16.
Jaden Harrison put the game out of reach on a 40-yard catch with 2:30 left and the Flyers are headed north for the semifinals.