A knife would have been useless — you would have needed a chainsaw to cut through the tension at Canyon View’s Falcon Field during the last minute of Friday’s rivalry game against Cedar.
But despite facing an almost certain and heart-wrenching defeat, the football Gods smiled on the Falcons and they beat the Redmen, 42-41, in quite possibly the best football game the city has ever seen.
It was the first victory for Canyon View over Cedar since 2005.
“It means a lot to us,” said Canyon View quarterback Michael Musto. “To be the first team in 10 years that’s beat Cedar, and to be 3-0 is an awesome feeling.”
The emotion following the win was as much a celebration as it was a collective sigh of relief from the entire north side of Cedar City after the Falcons were on top of the world one minute and fighting for their survival in the next.
Canyon View had possessed the ball and held the lead for most of the second half but the Reds had fought their way back.
Trailing 42-35 With :37 left in regulation Berick Englestead hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mason Fakahua on fourth down and 14 and Cedar had the power to either send the game into overtime or go for the kill.
The Reds chose the latter and it cost them the game.
“It was killing me,” said Canyon View running back Jackson Vasi, who could only watch from the sidelines as Cedar did its best to erase a lead he had a huge part in establishing. “The whole team just needed to come together for a stop.”
Cedar decided to go for two and called a running play around the right side of the line but was flagged for a penalty, which Canyon View declined, and the try was unsuccessful.
Canyon View needed only to kneel on the ball and the game was theirs.
The win was the culmination of a week of discipline as coaches kept the players away from rivalry week activities.
“We said ‘save all your energy, because it’s going to be that kind of a dog fight,'” head coach Robbie Robinson said. “They came through tonight.”
Robinson couldn’t have been more right about the kind of game it would be.
Fakahua threw three touchdowns and ran for another, while Bodey Allred added a 75-yard reception.
But with Vasi carrying the offensive load -he ran the ball 35 times for 170 yards- Canyon View had enough energy to get the job done.
The Falcons had led 42-28 and had all the momentum going in their direction after Vasi scored his fourth touchdown of the night with 5:13 left to play.
But Allred ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 42-35 and Canyon fumbled on its next possession and giving the Reds the opportunity to stay in the game.
Fakahua engineered a five play drive that covered 63 yards in less than a minute, bringing the grand total of plays the Reds ran in the second half to nine.
The comeback was almost a given but the penalty brought it to a quick end and the home crowd had all the reason to celebrate.