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There was a lot of anticipation in Emery County on Friday night as the Spartans hosted a quarterfinal football game against Providence Hall. While Emery defeated the Patriots in the regular season, the Black and Gold only led the last 17 seconds of the game. Would the second matchup feature similar fireworks? That question would be answered shortly.
Just like in the previous meeting, the Patriots scored first to go out in front 7-0. On the ensuing kickoff, Matt Olsen provided a spark with a huge return that set up the Spartans near the 30 yard line. Emery took full advantage as Wade Stilson found Olsen on a screen pass. Olsen weaved his way to the house to knot it up at seven.
However, the junior was not finished with his early heroics. On the very next Providence Hall possession, Olsen undercut a throw to the outside and picked it off before scoring his second touchdown of the game. The pick six put Emery out in front 14-7.
The Patriots added a field goal with just over four minutes left in the half, but there was a lot more excitement to come. Less than a minute later, the Spartans had the ball around midfield. Stilson pulled back and ripped a beautiful bomb that found Mason Stilson for a huge touchdown. There was over 50 air yards on the throw and it dropped right in Mason’s bread basket.
Emery’s 11-point lead was short lived, however, as the Patriots drove down the field for another touchdown with 1:36 left. Clearly not content, Emery opted for a quick strike. Stilson let another pass fly, but this time it found the waiting arms of a Providence Hall defender. In the end, it worked out for the Spartans when Riddick Potter came through with Emery’s second pick six of the night. Potter intercepted the pass and took it 55 yards for another score to make it 28-17 at the half.
Emery forced a three-and-out, which was only the beginning of the Patriots’ problems. A low snap on the punt attempt allowed Emery to tackle the punter and give it over to the Spartans on the 10 yard line. Stilson would find the end zone on a quarterback sneak shortly thereafter to make it 34-17 (PAT was blocked). The Patriots followed the same script in their next possession with a three-and-low and a low snap on the punt. This time, Emery tackled the punter in the end zone for the safety.
This is where things turned scary for the Spartans. With 6:32 left in the third, Emery got the ball back, though the Spartans would do little offensively from this point out. Meanwhile, Providence Hall slowly started mounting a comeback. The Patriots connected on a 65-yard pass and then punched it in to cap off the touchdown drive. They went for two and got it to make it 36-25 at the end of the third. A minute and a half later, the Patriots were back in the end zone, but failed on the two-point conversion to cut it to 36-31.
The Patriots would get the ball back and start driving, but Emery came up with a huge 3rd-and-1 stop to force a punt at midfield. A few plays later, the Spartans fumbled the ball that looked like it was heading out of bounds. A Patriots defender made a heads-up play and batted the ball back into the field where Providence Hall fell on it to take over on Emery’s 30 yard line. Fortunately, the Emery defense came through and forced a punt with 6:40 left. The Spartan offense then put together its best drive of the quarter, running down almost four minutes, but failed to add to its lead. As a result, Providence Hall took over on its own 14 yard line with 2:50 left in the game, trailing by five.
Needing a touchdown, the Patriots began making their way down the field. They converted on a 4th-and-10, and Potter saved the game with his tackle as he was the last line of defense. Providence Hall then advanced to the Emery 35 yard line, but found itself with a 3rd-and-10 with only 35.6 seconds remaining. An incomplete pass set up yet another 4th-and-10. This time, Kalib Olsen put the game away with the biggest play of his young career. The sophomore got to the quarterback for the sack and sealed the 36-31 Emery victory.
The #3 Spartans have several things to clean up and will need to play a cleaner, complete game as they now advance to the semis. There, they will meet the undefeated #2 Broncos on Friday at 7 p.m. at Southern Utah University. Catch all the action live on ETV Channel 10 and online at etvnews.com/livesports.