3A football playoffs: Canyon View edges Richfield in double-OT thriller

Canyon View vs. Richfield, 3A football playoffs, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Playing its first home playoff game in more than 20 years, the Canyon View High School football team outlasted Richfield in a wild double-overtime thriller Friday night. 

Canyon View vs. Richfield, 3A football playoffs, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Traie Buhler caught a 6-yard TD pass from Canyon View quarterback Andrew Barnes in the second overtime to put the Falcons ahead 34-28. The ensuing extra-point try was mishandled, leaving the Falcons up by just six as Richfield took its turn to try to score, starting from the 25-yard-line. 

However, Canyon View’s defense stifled the Wildcats on four straight downs, ending the game as dozens of fans from the CVHS student section rushed the field and joined the players in celebration.

Richfield had started off the game with a quick score, capitalizing off an early Canyon View fumble and throwing a 20-yard TD pass to take a 7-0 lead with 10:41 left in the first quarter.

Later in the first quarter, Barnes found receiver Nick Macias for a 68-yard TD reception to tie the game 7-7. 

The Falcons took the lead midway through the second quarter when Buhler caught a 5-yard scoring pass from Barnes. Then, Canyon View running back Adrian Ward later broke loose for a 45-yard TD run late in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 21-7 halftime lead.

Richfield scored on a 13-yard TD pass early in the third to pull within seven points. Canyon View held onto that lead until late in the fourth, when the Falcons fumbled the ball away while trying to run time off the clock. It was just one of a series of miscues that befell both teams late in the contest. The Wildcats were able to capitalize again, with Jaron Ross breaking through for a 24-yard rushing TD with 1:24 left, with the extra-point kick tying the score 21-21.

Canyon View was unable to advance the ball on its next possession, which ended with Richfield taking over in Falcon territory and almost immediately getting well within field-goal range. But with less than 17 seconds left in regulation, senior lineman Cooper McMullin intercepted the Richfield quarterback’s pass attempt and ran it nearly 50 yards until he was tackled.

“That was a crucial moment for us,” said Canyon View head coach Patrick Achord. “Cooper has been one of the hardest working kids in the program over the last four years and it was good to see him rewarded last night.

The Falcons weren’t able to get close enough to attempt a field goal, however, so regulation time ended with the score still tied, 21-21.

Canyon View then won the coin toss to start the first overtime, and opted to let Richfield go first. The Wildcats capped off their 25-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard TD run by Carsten Jensen and kicked the extra point to take a 28-21 lead. 

Canyon View vs. Richfield, 3A football playoffs, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Canyon View answered with Ward first getting a big first down, then running it 11 yards into the end zone a couple plays later. With Gavin Barlow’s successful PAT kick, the game was tied once again, 28-28.

Canyon View then went ahead on Buhler’s TD catch in the second overtime, after which the Falcons were able to stop the Wildcats on their final series.

Achord said that after three down-to-the-wire victories in as many weeks, he’s not sure if he can handle another stressful nailbiter.

“I was joking around with the team and told them they’re going to make me part of the Hulk Hogan Hair Club,” he said. “The way we like to make these thrillers go to the end, I’ll start losing my hair if this keeps up.”

Canyon View racked up 464 yards of total offense against Richfield’s vaunted defense. Barnes completed 14-of-24 passes for 204 yards, with Macias leading the way with six catches for 150 yards. Buhler caught four passes for 28 yards, including two TDs. 

On the ground, Ward amassed 206 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.

“He’s a workhorse for us,” Achord said of Ward. “When you have the best player on the field, you’ve got to feed him the rock.”

Defensively, McMullin led the team with 12 tackles and had an interception. Macias and Jacob McIntosh each made one interception. Dayne Hudson had eight tackles, with two sacks. Cole Springer made seven tackles and broke up three passes.

Next Friday, the No. 7 seeded Falcons (now 5-5 overall) will travel to Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, where they’ll face the Juan Diego Soaring Eagle, the No. 2 seed in the 3A tournament. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. To see full 3A bracket, click here.

Achord said that against Juan Diego, the Falcons won’t be able to get away with what he termed “sloppy” plays they made against Richfield. 

“We’ve got to clean it up,” he said. “ We had like we had 10 penalties in the second half, including three or four personal fouls. That’s something we can’t we can’t do next week.”

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