Spanish Fork football fans had to be a little apprehensive as the first seconds of the third quarter started ticking off the clock.
Their Dons had controlled the season-opening home game against visiting Mountain View Friday night -- yet only had a 17-6 lead and the Bruins were driving near midfield. Another score for Mountain View would’ve ratcheted up the pressure.
Spanish Fork senior running back/linebacker Landan Jensen, however, was about to flip the momentum around.
He stepped in front of a Bruin pass for a huge interception and returned it inside the Mountain View 10-yard line. Two plays later, Jensen broke a tackle and walked into the end zone from seven yards out -- and the Dons wouldn’t be challenged again.
Spanish Fork exploded for a 22-point third quarter on its way to the 46-6 victory over the Bruins.
“In any first game, you don’t know what you are getting yourself into,” Don head coach Preston Parrish said. “Minus a few lapses that will drive a coach crazy, the kids played well. They played with emotion, did their assignments and didn't hang their heads when things didn’t go their way. That’s what you hope for with a group of young men.”
Jensen said he had a feeling for where the Mountain View pass was going to be going on that key play early in the second half.
“I saw their receiver come into my zone so I dropped back, then read the quarterback’s eyes and he threw it right to me,” Jensen said. “I almost took it to the house. I ran into one of my own teammates who tripped me up.”
He might not have gotten the pick-6 but he said it was gratifying to be able to finish it off.
“I wanted that touchdown so bad,” Jensen said. “When coach said I could run it, I was going to take it in. I had to go through a few guys but I did what I had to do.”
Parrish credited Jensen for coming through when the team needed him.
“We talked at halftime about having something to build on,” Parrish said. “Landan read it well. He’s a big-play guy and that’s what good players do.”
Mountain View head coach Tyler Anderson said he was disappointed with how the game got away from the Bruins after the break but was pleased with the effort he got from his boys.
“We competed well and played hard,” Anderson said. “We just had too many little mistakes on both sides of the ball that killed us. Then one mistake would roll into another. We’ve got to forget them and move on.”
Spanish Fork used a punishing running game to move the ball consistently throughout the game, only being forced to punt a couple of times in the entire game.
But some turnovers allowed Mountain View to stay within striking distance early, although a short TD run by junior running back Mateen Lomax and a 55-yard TD pass from junior QB Carson Chappell to senior WR Jaxon Higginson put the Dons up 17-0.
The Bruins got their only score of the game when junior running back Noah Jensen -- who was a workhorse all game -- broke free off a screen pass and raced 54 yards to the end zone.
“Noah is going to be a good back for us,” Anderson said. “He’s going to do great things this year. We tried to establish the run early but had some fumbled snaps that hurt us.”
Parrish said he feels like this is the type of performance that can spark something for Spanish Fork.
“This is something the program needed, to play well and win in convincing fashion,” he said. “Our defensive effort was awesome. They guys are buying in, having 11 guys working as one and flying around.”
For Landan Jensen, all that mattered was starting 1-0.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “Winning the first game of my senior year, it’s what I’ve been dreaming about ever since I started playing football.”