With both teams in Friday’s 5A second-round game at Springville determined to play a hard-nosed, physical brand of football, victory for either visiting Timpview or the home-standing Red Devils would come down to which side could seize the momentum.
At halftime, Springville had that edge and it showed on the scoreboard as the Red Devils led by 7 points.
But two key turnovers forced by the Thunderbirds in the third quarter swung the game in favor of Timpview and the visitors rode that momentum to the 21-14 win to keep their season alive.
“We came out a little flat and had a rough start,” Thunderbird senior running back Sione Moa said. “At halftime we knew we had to tune in. We felt at halftime that something would trigger that and the boys played like it.”
Springville received the ball to start the second half, hoping to drive down and increase its advantage. Instead, the Red Devils coughed up the football on the very first play from scrimmage.
“We needed a big momentum play and that definitely got it for us,” Timpview head coach Andy Stokes said. “The boys came out of halftime with energy and persevered.”
The Thunderbirds needed just two plays to get the ball in the end zone as Moa raced around the left end for the 17-yard score (his second rushing TD of the game) to tie things up.
“It’s always fun to get in the end zone but it wasn’t me,” Moa said. “It was all about the offensive line and the momentum we had as a team. That pushed us forward.”
The home team shook off the tough opening sequence and put together its most impressive drive of the game, marching down the field in 10 plays to get in position to retake the lead.
On first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Springville senior quarterback Payton Henry was being pressured but saw senior wide receiver Alex Mortensen break into the open.
When he passed it, however, Timpview junior defensive back Raider Damuni cut in front and tipped the ball in the air, juggling it before eventually hauling it in at the 2-yard line for the devastating interception.
“We had hoped to go up and maybe force them to pass,” Red Devil head coach Willy Child said. “We came up short of getting the ball in the end zone and that allowed them to do what they wanted to do.”
The pounding Thunderbird run game would be the offensive story for the rest of the game as Moa and junior running back Targhee Lambson churned out the yards on the ground.
“We have two really good running backs,” Stokes said. “Moa also plays safety for us and is a guy who goes out there and makes something happen.”
Timpview took the lead when Lambson powered across the goal line from 6 yards out early in the fourth quarter, then the Thunderbird defense forced Springville to punt with six minutes left in the game.
The Red Devils hoped to get a stop when a Timpview false start penalty put the Thunderbirds in a third-and-6 situation with three minutes to play, but Moa slipped around the left side for a 7-yard gain and a key first down.
“At that point, I put every bit of trust in my offensive line,” Moa said. “I knew they were going to help me make the first down and they did.”
Timpview ended up being able to kill the rest of the clock and advance to the 5A quarterfinals, while Springville saw its season come to an end.
“This was a great group of kids, a great group of seniors,” Child said. “They had a lot of success here and have been part of some deep runs in the playoffs. We expected a lot from these guys and they gave everything they had. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Thunderbirds now get ready for another titanic rivalry showdown as they will play at No. 2-seed Provo on Friday. The Bulldogs beat Alta, 44-16, to set up the rematch.
“I’m looking forward to this one,” Moa said. “I have friends on Provo’s team, so it’s fun playing them. It’s one-and-done now, so this will be a tough game.”
Timpview edged the Bulldogs, 13-7, when the two teams met on Aug. 30 in a nonregion contest.
“It will be a good game over there,” Stokes said. “The kids had a good opportunity to learn today and now we’ll go back and work hard. We’ve got to win on Monday and Tuesday at practice to be ready.”
The big 5A quarterfinal battle is scheduled to be played at 6 p.m. on Friday at Provo.