Lions can’t convert on last play as Wasatch wins RMFL once again

Zion Lions' Misi Tupe (17), Zion Lions vs. Vegas Trojans, Football, June 18, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

OGDEN – The Zion Lions dug themselves a hole that turned out to be 10 yards too deep.

Misi Tupe’s pass into the corner of the end zone – from the 10-yard line – was knocked away and, for the third straight year, the Wasatch Revolution mobbed the field in celebration of their Rocky Mountain Football League championship.

Lions_logo_large (1)Revolution_logo_largeThe 21-15 victory ended up as a nailbiter, though the Rev had led the entire game. Wasatch held a 21-3 lead with under six minutes left in the game. But Tupe led the Lions to two straight scores and an onside kick got Tupe and his offensive teammates the ball with one last chance.

The Lions drove inside the 15-yard line with 31 seconds left, then were flagged for an illegal block that brought the ball out to the 25. A swing pass from Tupe to Michael Matalolo on third down got the ball back to the 15 with the clock ticking under 10 seconds. With no timeouts, the Lions hurried to the line, but a Wasatch player tossed the ball away from the pile and the clock expired.

Rev players rushed the field to celebrate, but the referees noted the illegal play and threw a flag. The ball was then placed at the 10-yard line and six seconds were put back on the clock.

Looking at fourth down and with time for just a single play, Tupe rolled left and, under heavy pressure, lofted a pass toward receiver Bailey Glass. But the heave was batted away by the Rev defenders, sparking a second celebration for the Wasatch Revolution, this one absent of any yellow handkerchiefs.

Zion Lions pose after the championship game Saturday, Zion at Wasatch, Ogden, Utah, Jun. 25, 2016 | Photo courtesy Bobby Robledo
Zion Lions pose after the championship game Saturday, Zion at Wasatch, Ogden, Utah, Jun. 25, 2016 | Photo courtesy Bobby Robledo

Wasatch took an early 8-0 lead on a TD run by Zach Guerts. After a Lions turnover early in the second quarter, Wasatch pushed the lead to 15-0.

Nick Hafen hit a field goal for the Lions just before halftime to make it 15-3. But things got worse for the Lions, who struggled to run the football in the game. The Rev seemed to have the game salted away after a Charlie Peterson touchdown made it 21-3 with under eight minutes to go in the game.

But Zion showed some fight in the final minutes. Tupe led the team on a two-minute drive to make it 21-9 and, after a defensive stop, the Lions were able to punch one in with one minute to go, cutting it to 21-15. The bounding onside kick gave the Lions one last chance, but the Rev got the last laugh with the stop at the end of the game.

It is the third straight RMFL title for the Revolution, who needed a TD pass with five seconds left in the semifinals against the Utah Shock just to get to the championship game. All three title victories have come at the expense of the Zion Lions (26-21 in 2014 and 30-21 in 2015).

Wasatch ends the year with a 10-1 record, while the Lions, 6-4, settle once again for the second-place trophy.

The RMFL is a semipro football league featuring about 50 percent of its players with college football pedigrees. The quarterbacks in Saturday’s championship game, Peterson and Tupe, played for Division I programs BYU and Texas A&M, respectively. The RMFL season runs from early April to late June.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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