The Provo football team had to be feeling pretty good with three minutes left in Friday’s night Region 7 opener at Springville.
Behind a trio of touchdown passes from senior quarterback Luke Haslem and an excellent defensive performance, the Bulldogs had surged to a 21-point lead over the Red Devils – and Springville was running out of time.
Three minutes later, Provo players finally could breathe a huge sigh of relief as the last desperation Red Devil pass was intercepted as time expired, preserving the 28-22 Bulldog victory after a furious Springville rally.
“I’m proud of the guys and the way they battled,” Provo head coach Tony McGeary said. “We fought to the very end.”
The first half belonged to the visitors as the Bulldogs got rolling out of the gate.
Provo scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Haslem to junior running back Dallin Havea on its first possession of the game, then tacked on a 29-yard TD toss from Haslem to senior wide receiver Taylor Heiner and a 12-yard scoring throw from Haslem to junior wide receiver Ryder MacGillivray in the second quarter to build a solid lead.
“It was a team effort,” Haslem said. “We came out fast and controlled the game. My teammates went and made plays.”
The Bulldogs were excellent defensively in the first two quarters, not allowing the Red Devils to get a first down until midway through the second quarter.
“We played very well defensively,” McGeary said. “But give Springville credit. They came back and kept playing hard.”
The Red Devils put together a 14-play drive to start the second half to get their first points as senior quarterback Payton Murphy fired a 5-yard TD pass to senior running back Tyler Kelly.
But that didn’t look like it would be nearly enough, particularly when Havea scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on a 5-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
Springville isn’t a team that gives up, however, and the Red Devils kept battling.
First, Springville drove down and got into the end zone for a second time when Murphy dove across the goal line from 1-yard out with just over two-and-a-half minutes left in the game.
The Red Devils then recovered the ensuing onside kick and needed just five plays to score again, with Murphy passing to senior Austin Mortensen for a 6-yard TD, then hitting sophomore running back William Penrod for the two-point conversion.
Suddenly Provo’s big lead was just a measly six points and there was still nearly two minutes of game-time left.
But the Bulldogs didn’t panic, recovering the second Springville onside kick and getting a big run from Haslem to push the ball deep into Red Devil territory.
Springville did stop Provo on fourth down to get the ball back, but the Red Devils were backed up 91 yards from the potential game-winning scored with just nine seconds left.
Murphy hit Mortensen for a 20-yard gain to set up the game’s final play. Haslem said there was only so much he could do from the sideline as Springville tried to find one last miracle.
“All you can do is just pray that they don’t get it, that your defense will get the stop,” Haslem said.
Murphy launched the ball down field but three Provo defenders converged to knock it away and intercept it, ending the drama for the last time.
“We have a goal to win region and the championship is always going to go through Springville,” McGeary said. “We knew we had to beat these guys to do that. We had a great game plan going in. We’re just glad to have the victory.”
The Bulldogs (4-1, 2-0) steps away from region play next week as they play at Lehi on Sept. 20, while the Red Devils (4-1, 1-1) will look to bounce back from their first loss when they play at Payson the same evening.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.