STANSBURY PARK — A high school football game has 48 minutes and the for the first 36 of those minutes, the Dixie Flyers were pretty miserable. But in the final 12 minutes of Friday night’s quarterfinal playoff game at Stallions Stadium, Dixie was nothing short of brilliant.
The Flyers catapulted themselves into the 3AA state semifinals with a 49-42 come-from-behind stunner over the shell-shocked Stallions.
Stansbury running back Landon Stice ran wild the first three quarters of the game, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for more than 200 yards. His 75-yarder with 5:19 to go in the third seemed to toll a death-knell for Dixie as it made the score 42-14.
Takau, who had left the game in the first half with an injury, connected with Jaden Harrison from 33 yards out to give Dixie a glimmer of hope with two seconds left in the third, cutting the deficit to 42-21.
Up 21 with 12 minutes to play, Stansbury just needed to chew some clock and take care of the football. That didn’t happen.
A personal foul penalty forced the Stallions into a three-and-out and on fourth down, the SHS long snapper sent the ball sailing over the punter’s head. The miscue gave Dixie the ball at the Stallions 12-yard line and two plays later, Takau hit Bret Barben from 6-yards out to make it 42-28 with 10:24 left in the game.
Once again, Dixie stuffed Stice and the Stallions, forcing a second consecutive punting situation. And once again, the long snapper sailed the ball over the punter’s head, handing Dixie the ball at the SHS 2-yard line.
The next play saw Tre Miller slice it into the end zone and with 8:47 left in the game, Dixie had trimmed the four-score lead to just a single touchdown, 42-35.
Stansbury tried to move the ball on its next possession, but on a third-and-6, Dixie’s Mason Oki stepped in front of a Gage Manzione pass at the Stallions 28-yard line with 7:13 to play.
On the very next play, Miller broke off tackle and rushed 28 yards for the equalizing score. Dixie had made up 28 points in five minutes of game time.
After the kickoff, Stansbury got one first down, but an offensive holding call got the Stallions behind the chains and forced another punting situation. This time the punt was away clean and it pinned Dixie down at its own 22-yard line.
That was no problem for Miller, who was having a big night. The junior running back, on the third play of the drive, burst into the Stansbury secondary and outran all defenders for a 67-yard TD. Astonishingly, Dixie led 49-42 with still 3:20 left in the game.
The Stallions tried to rally, but the offense, which had been so good the first three quarters, managed just 8 yards in five plays. Hudson Conrad was tackled 3 yards short of a first down on a fourth-down try at the SHS 33-yard line with 2:16 to play.
Dixie then ran out the clock to preserve the win.
The Flyers, who were out-gained 413-353 in the game, got first-half TDs from Harrison and Barben, but trailed 28-14 at intermission. Miller finished with 153 yards on 11 carries, with three TDs. Stice ended up with 232 yards on 17 carries.
The win moves Dixie to 8-4 and earns the Flyers a rematch with Pine View, which beat Dixie 42-36 back in mid-September. The semifinal game between the two southern Utah rivals will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
Stansbury, which had won eight straight, ends the year 9-2.
Stats: Dixie 49, Stansbury 42
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