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Provo football holds off late Maple Mountain rally

By Brian E. Preece - Herald Correspondent | Sep 10, 2021
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Provo head coach Kirk Chambers talks to the Bulldogs after the Region 9 game against Maple Mountain in Spanish Fork on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Brian E. Preece, Herald Correspondent)
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Provo and Maple Mountain football players prepare to run a play during the Region 9 game in Spanish Fork on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Brian E. Preece, Herald Correspondent)
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Provo assistant coach Kevin Norman, who is battling cancer, talks to the Bulldogs after the Region 9 game against Maple Mountain in Spanish Fork on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Brian E. Preece, Herald Correspondent)

Provo’s 35-28 victory over Maple Mountain Friday night in Region 8 football was anything but conventional.

At times the Bulldogs seemed to have everything under control building first a 28-14 lead in the third quarter and then going up 35-21 in the final stanza only to either see Maple Mountain fight back with inspired play combined with some sloppiness on their end.

Case in point: Maple Mountain trailed by 14 points with just 2:06 left in the game after Provo’s Jace Welsch scored his third touchdown of the game with just 2;06 remaining.

But the Golden Eagles refused to give up on Homecoming night and Cole Mccallister hauled in an 8-yard pass from Brogan Miles with 1:12 remaining. After Sam Gomez connected on his fourth successful extra point, the Golden Eagles pulled within seven points at 35-28.

Maple Mountain’s fate seemed sealed when Provo’s Ezra Tuilevuka recovered the Golden Eagle onside kick attempt. But that’s when Provo decided to short circuit.

Welsch looked like he clinched the win for the Bulldog victory when he exploded for a 35-yard run. But he went out of bounds on the play and much of the run was called back on a holding penalty which stopped the clock. Provo then committed a dead ball personal foul penalty on the next play pushing the ball further back and forcing the Bulldogs to punt.

The short punt gave Maple Mountain good field position near midfield with 36 seconds left and the Golden Eagles moved the ball inside the Bulldog 30-yard line with 4.6 seconds left to play. But Provo’s defense held and Miles’ desperation pass sailed out of the end zone allowing Provo to escape with the win.

“The boys fought hard. It was another ugly win but an ugly win is still another win in the win column,” Provo head coach Kirk Chambers said.

The Bulldog head coach was also excited about the play of his senior quarterback Welsch who ran for three scores while passing for two others.

“He’s coming into his own right now,” Chambers said. “He’s winning games with his throwing, as well as his legs.”

Welsch was also pleased with the victory and also sees his own play improving.

“It feels good. I am doing what I have been taught to do,” the Bulldog signal-caller said.

Despite the heroics of Welsch and the offense, Provo’s defense had to stand tall in the end and make some plays of their own.

One of those big plays came via Nilo Rosales who, when Maple Mountain was driving for a possible game tying score in the third quarter, picked off Miles on the 10-yard line and ran the ball back 85 yards before being chased down by Jaxson Denton.

But Denton’s heroic effort only delayed the inevitable as Welsch found Rock Magelby on a 7-yard scoring reception to put Provo up 28-14 at the time.

“He (Rosales) was all over the place for us tonight,” Chambers said. “He had a great game.”

Maple Mountain had some stellar efforts of their own from the likes of Miles, who tossed three scores to McCallister, Bennie Killpack and Sean Persson. Hunter Bezzant also crossed the goal line for the Golden Eagles on a 1-yard plunge.

With the win Provo moved to 5-0 on the season and 1-0 in league play and will host Springvile (4-1, 0-1) next week. With the loss Maple Mountain falls to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in Region 9. The Golden Eagles visit Wasatch (4-1, 1-0) next week.

Notes: Provo’s players and coaches entered the game Friday night with a bit more on their minds than opening up Region 9 play with a victory. Chambers announced before the game that assistant coach Kevin Norman would be missing the rest of the season as he undergoes cancer treatments for Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Norman has been a defensive coach and special teams coordinator for the Bulldog program in past years and actually came over to Provo from Spanish Fork with Chambers.

“Coach Norman’s been my coach and mentor since my freshman year,” said Provo defensive captain Logalima Lesa. “We are glad to come out here and get the win for him. He’s in our prayers.”

Props must go out to Maple Mountain for both recognizing Norman before the game as well as having a moving tribute to the first responders of Mapleton and Spanish Fork as part of a September 11 commemoration.

Score by Quarter

P- 6 8 14 7 –35

MM- 7 7 0 14 –28

P-Jace Welsch 1 run (kick failed)

MM-Bennie Killpack 4 pass from Brogan Miles (Sam Gomez kick)

MM-Hunter Bezzant 1 run (Gomez kick)

P-Tomasi Hifo 18 pass from Welsch (Daniel Asisi pass from Welsch)

P-Welsch 39 run (kick failed)

P-Rockwell Magelby 7 pass from Welsch (Welsch run)

MM-Sean Persson 18 pass from Miles (Gomez kick)

P-Welsch 6 run (Max Lehman kick)

MM-Cole McCallister 8 pass from Miles (Gomez kick)

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