ST. GEORGE – The element of surprise created a magic moment for Kody Wilstead and the Pine View Panthers.
Wilstead rushed in a 4-yard touchdown with 2:45 left in the game, lifting the Panthers to a 16-10 win over previously undefeated Desert Hills Friday night at Panther Stadium.
Running the ball is not Wilstead’s forte. In fact, ever since breaking his ankle over a year ago, the senior quarterback rarely runs except to scramble away from pass rushers. But with the fierce Thunder defense keying on PV running back Pano Tiatia, Wilstead asked, and got, permission from coach Ray Hosner to keep the football on the option-read play. With most of the defense trying to tackle Tiatia, Wilstead sprinted around the right side and scored untouched for the go-ahead TD.
“I don’t run it much, but coach okayed it,” Wilstead said. “They were really going after Pano, so it worked out for us.”
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, it looked like the Panthers were headed for their second straight home loss, and on Homecoming, no less. Down 10-3, Pine View committed its fourth turnover of the game when Cason Prisbrey was stripped of the ball inside the Desert Hills 10-yard line.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
With the ball and the lead, the Thunder worked a little clock. With the ball at the 15-yard line and facing a second and long after a penalty, a Desert Hills pass caromed off a receiver and into the waiting hands of defensive back Colton Miller. The senior broke one tackle and sprinted into the end zone to tie the game at 10-10 with 7:52 to play.
“Something about playing them,” Miller said. “I’ve gotten an interception every time I’ve played them. For those that didn’t think we could win tonight, well it sucks for them. We have a lot of heart and never stopped believing in ourselves.”
A pair of penalties totaling 30 yards on the Thunder’s next drive set Desert Hills up at the Pine View 39-yard line. But the drive stalled there and DH punted back to Pine View with 5:04 left in the game.
The downed kick set the Panthers up at their own 13-yard line. Pine View moved quickly, though, as Tiatia rushed for 11 yards, followed by a 46-yard catch-and-run by Jack Bangerter.
With the ball at the DH 30, Wilstead scrambled for two yards and a DH penalty put the ball at the 15-yard line. Three Tiatia runs chewed up a little clock and gave Pine View a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line.
A time out the play before gave Wilstead the chance to petition Hosner, who told his QB that this was one of those rare occasions when he was allowed to keep the ball.
“Don’t tell anybody,” Hosner said. “It was tough last week, but I never felt like these kids would give up. This is a resilient bunch.”
The score (with a missed extra point after a PV penalty) made it 16-10 with 2:45 left to play. Jaden Ah Quin intercepted Thunder QB Nick Warmsley three plays later to seal the win. It was one of three picks for the senior, who was named Homecoming King at halftime.
“What a great night,” Ah Quin said. “Our defense has so many talented guys. They put a lot of pressure on their quarterback and that made it a lot easier for us defensive backs.”
Though both teams had huge offensive games a week ago, it was clear from the beginning that the defenses would rule this night. In fact, there were seven punts in the first half and 11 in the game.
Desert Hills led after a Hunter Spray 21-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Pine View tied it with 4:28 to go in the second quarter on a 21-yarder by Ethan Baer.
It was starting to look like there would be no touchdowns at all in the game when the Thunder finally broke through. After a PV punt settled at the DH 9-yard line, Bridger Cowdin took a Nick Warmsley swing pass up the left sideline and outran the Panther defenders 91 yard for a score. The Spray extra point made it 10-3 with just 45 seconds left in the third, setting up an epic fourth quarter.
“I would ask our fans to never stop believing in us,” Wilstead said. “I made some big mistakes last week and this week, too. But I wasn’t going to make another one late in this game.”
Wilstead finished with 244 yards in the air on 17 of 34 passing. Tiatia rushed for 100 yards on 24 carries, while Pine View had big receiving games from Miller and Bangerter. Miller grabbed six passes for 127 yards, while Bangerter caught five for 95.
The Panthers, 4-2 overall and 2-1 in region, play at Cedar next week.
Desert Hills got 146 yards of offense from Cowdin and QB Warmsley passed for 240 yards on 15 of 37 attempts.
Defensively, both teams played well. DH allowed just 344 yards and forced four turnovers. Pine View was just as sharp, allowing 323 yards and also forcing four takeaways.
Penalties were abundant, with Desert Hills getting nabbed 13 times for 126 yards and the Panthers being flagged six times for 86 yards.
The Thunder, 5-1 and 2-1, take on Dixie at Thunder Stadium next week.
Related post: STGNews photo gallery, Week 6
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