SALT LAKE CITY — A little bit of defense went a long way Thursday for Pine View.
Jaden Ah Quin made a first-down saving tackle in overtime and Colton Miller caught the winning pass from Kody Wilstead as the Panthers moved into the state championship game with a 48-42 OT win over previously undefeated Juan Diego.
The game didn’t have a lot of defense, with 90 points and 1,084 total yards. But the Panthers D made some big plays late in the game. Dylan Draper, playing with a separated shoulder, had a fumble recovery and an interception and Ah Quin’s stop set PV up for the win.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” Pine View coach Ray Hosner said. “There’s no doubt they left everything they had out there on the field.”
The Panthers won the toss in overtime and elected to play defense first. Juan Diego ran for nine yards on three plays from the 25-yard line. But the Soaring Eagle committed back to back false starts that turned fourth-and-1 into fourth-and-11. Soaring Eagle quarterback Cole Nelson passed to running back Jessie Springer on the fourth-down play. Ah Quin, playing off a block, found himself isolated one-on-one with Springer. Ah Quin aggressively went after the senior running back and tackled him five yards short of the first down.
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Pine View’s offensive turn in OT didn’t last long. Wilstead hit Hosner for an 8-yard completion, then rushed for a first down on a third-down play for three yards. On the next play, Wilstead hit Miller from 14-yards out to spark the instant celebration.
“I read pre-play that Colton had man coverage and no one can cover my great receivers man to man,” Wilstead said. “I knew it was gong to be the winner when I threw it.”
The only reason the game even had an overtime was a counterintuitive play call by Hosner.
“Yeah, we told our defense to let them score,” he said of Juan Diego’s last score. “We had to save some time on the clock. We had to do it.”
After a Wilstead fumble, Juan Diego had the ball at the PV 32-yard line with a chance to run out the clock and a 35-34 lead.
“I thought it was over, I thought I blew it,” Wilstead said. “I prayed and asked that my grandma could help us.”
Juan Diego ran the clock down under two minutes while picking up a first down. WIth the Panthers down to one final time out, Hosner told his defense to let the Soaring Eagle score.
“We were just praying they wouldn’t take a knee,” PV offensive coordinator Scott Anderson said. “If they had, we would have had very little time left. Ray said he was going to let them score and I said, ‘Do it. Let’s go.’ We wanted to get our offense out there.”
The TD made it 42-34 with 1:31 left in the game. With the kickoff, Pine View took over with 1:26 on the clock and the ball at the PV 19-yard line. After six plays, the Panthers had only managed to move it to their own 49-yard line and the clock had trickled down to 12 seconds left.
Wilstead, under a little pressure, completed what looked like a fairly harmless 20-yard pass to Triston Duran. The speedy receiver somehow avoided three headhunting defenders, then sprinted inside the 5-yard line, where he broke another tackle and jogged into the end zone. An exhausted Duran collapsed at the back of the end zone after the play.
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“I have no idea how he scored on that play,” Hosner said. “He’s just a phenomenal player and that touchdown was all him and how big his heart is.”
The score came with one second left on the clock and left Pine View down by a 42-40 score. The two-point conversion featured more dramatic action. Wilstead was supposed to pass it to tight end Cason Prisbrey on an arrow route.
“That’s the only route I know on that play,” Wilstead said. “I tried to find somewhere to run, but they cut it off. Then I saw Jack (Bangerter) and he raised his hand like ‘Throw it to me. I’ll get it.'”
Wilstead tossed it into the air, clearing three defenders and Bangerter snagged it with both hands to tie the game.
Pine View’s first lead of the game came just moments earlier. The Panthers had trailed 21-7 at the half and were down 28-20 at the start of the fourth quarter. PV had the ball at its own 15-yard line, but Wilstead hit Bladen Hosner on a post that turned into a 70-yard play. Four plays later, Hosner caught a slant from Wilstead to tie the game at 28-28 with 8:17 left in the game.
Pine View took the lead just three minutes later after a Draper fumble recovery when Duran got his first TD of the game (50 yards), but the extra point was wide and the Panthers led by just six at 34-28 with 5:44 to play.
Juan Diego then embarked on a quick drive, with Chase WIlliams taking it in from 12 yards out with 3:21 to go in the game. Andrew Montoya made the extra point, putting it at 35-34.
The next drive, Wilstead had the aforementioned fumble, but the Panthers weren’t quite dead.
“We just wanted to get one more chance,” Miller said. “Coach was real positive and we made the best of things.”
Miller’s winning TD in overtime was a pinpoint play between the two Panther offensive players.
I knew Kody was going to throw it to me before the play,” he said. “I had man coverage and just ran a stop route and the pass was right there.”
Wilstead is now the second leading passer in the history of the state of Utah after his 402-yard game. He needs about 400 yards in the championship game to become the all-time leader.
Bangerter caught eight passes, giving him 88 on the season, seventh all-time in Utah.
The Panthers play in the state championship game next Friday at Rice Eccles Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
Stats (via HS Gamecenter): PV 48, JD 42
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