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A huge matchup between Emery and Richfield took place on Friday with first place in region on the line. The Wildcats struck first and went out on top 7-0.
Emery then drove the ball down the field on the ensuing possession. On fourth and one in Wildcat territory, the Spartans decided to go for it. Ryker Jensen ran it up the middle on a quarterback sneak and somehow got lost in the pile. He broke out all alone and scored on the 36-yard run for a touchdown. It was tied 7-7 after one quarter.
Richfield commanded the next two quarters. The Wildcat offense started hitting on all cylinders with a good mix of pass and run. Defensively, they did a good job of limiting the Spartans on early downs, forcing Emery into many third and longs. Richfield took advantage and scored 24 unanswered points over the second and third quarters.
Emery came alive in the fourth, needing an epic comeback. Jeremy Brannon caught a nine-yard touchdown pass to put the Spartans back on the board. Emery went for two and got it, making it a two possession game. Later in the quarter, Jace Mangum punched it in for the Spartans’ second straight touchdown. Again, Emery went for two and the offense came through. With just under five minutes in the game, Emery trailed by eight 31-23.
The Spartans needed a stop on defense for any shot to complete the comeback. On a third and one, Emery stuffed the Wildcats and appeared to stop them short of a first down. A generous spot gave the Wildcats the first down on a close play. Emery stopped Richfield from gaining any ground on the next two snaps, forcing a third and long.
Richfield appeared to get away with a false start when the receiver began his route a tick early. He ended up catching the pass for the first down. Richfield was then able to run out the clock and fend off the Spartans 31-23.
Although Emery did not turn the ball over and forced one turnover when Jaxton Madsen intercepted a pass, the big story of the game was third down efficiency. The Spartans were forced into too many third and longs and ended the night converting just three of 11 third-down plays (27%). Richfield, on the other hand, saw many third and shorts and finished 9-14 on third downs (64%).
One feather in the Spartans’ cap has to be their determination and never-quit spirit. Down by 24 points on the road in the forth quarter, Emery battled back and scored 16 unanswered points to make it a one score game.
The Spartans (5-4, 3-1) will need that same fight when they host San Juan (6-3, 3-1) on Friday in a battle for second place. With a win, Emery will be over .500 for year, which would be a huge improvement for the team. There is also a chance the Spartans could jump a few spots in the RPI rankings and host a playoff game. Be sure to tune into ETV Channel 10 or etvnews.com/livesports on Friday night to catch all the action.