CEDAR CITY — Cedar High waited until the last possible moment Friday night, and it still was almost too early.
Cedar quarterback Mason Fakahua snuck into the end zone from 1-yard out to take the final lead for the Redmen and left the Bulldogs to attempt a kickoff return.
“Once, I knew I was across the line, I just thanked my line,” Fakahua said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten across (the goal line). It just went through my mind that we won and we worked hard to win.”
But the game wasn’t quite over. Cedar kicked off to end the game, but Judge’s Rihan Deng picked the ball up and ran down the sideline. He went untouched 98 yards to the end zone, but a block in the back penalty brought the touchdown back to Judge’s side of the field. The Bulldogs had one last heave to the end zone, but it fell incomplete.
“I’m proud of how we fought back, especially right there at the end,” Cedar head coach Josh Bennett said. “It shows a lot about our team. It shows we have a lot of heart, a lot of desire. They wanted to win this game.”
Cedar scored first after a fumble on the Judge Memorial 10-yard line set up a 9-yard rushing touchdown from Drake Lewis.
“I was thinking about my team,” Lewis said. “I just gotta get in the end zone and put points on the board. I was doing everything I could to get in. I just gave it my all to get in the end zone.”
Judge Memorial scored on the ensuing drive with a 3-yard rush from Keola Palau early in the second quarter. Then the Bulldogs stopped Cedar and got the ball back. Their drive stalled at the 24 yard line. Kicker Tim Hemmersmeier kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Judge held on to the 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
“I thought we played sloppy in the first half,” Bennett said. “I think we had more penalties than we had plays. We went in at halftime, and we just challenged them. One of our coaches, Oscar Fakahua, said ‘I need five yards out of each one of you.’ They responded to that challenge and came out and did it.”
The third quarter was a showcase of defense and punters with no turnovers on either side. It wasn’t until the start of the fourth quarter when Cedar broke through on a 52-yard drive for a touchdown. The drive was capped with a 19-yard pass from Fakahua to Lewis.
“Drake catches everything,” Fakahua said. “He’s a great player, and he helps us out a lot.”
The Bulldogs would answer on the ensuing drive with a 30-yard pass from Jack Boomer to Xavier Price.
“They could have hung their heads and given up right there, but they stayed in, and we had an 80-yard drive, marched it down and scored,” Bennett said. “It says a lot about them and their character, and we need games like that. We haven’t had a game where we had to come back and win a game. It really tested their character, and they came through tonight.”
Cedar traveled the length of the field for the go-ahead touchdown, but on the second to last offensive play, Fakahua came to the sideline.
“I went to him, and I said ‘I believe in our receivers right now; I believe in our linemen,'” Fakahua said. “We got the blocks down, and Drake caught the ball right around the 1-yard line, and we went and scored.”
Cedar, 5-5, continues to the quarterfinals of the 3AA Playoffs as it advances to play at Logan Friday.
Stats: CHS 20, JMHS 17
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