ST. GEORGE — Two weeks ago, Dixie and Pine View staged an epic contest at Walt Brooks Stadium. Friday night, the sequel was just as good as the original. And the hero in both features wore blue and white.
“We did it as a team, not individuals, a team,” said Dixie defensive back Mason Oki. “All week we’ve been talking about unity and staying together as a team. That’s how we won tonight.”
The Flyers looked like they had clinched the game when Zak Harrah hit Jaden Harrison with a 40-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 left in the game. The TD made it 28-16 with time dwindling.
But Pine View drove 78 yards in nine plays, using just 90 seconds off the clock, to make it 28-23. Riley Livingston hit Steve Bangerter with a 15-yard TD to cap the drive.
With just 1:00 on the clock, PV was forced to try an onside kick. It was perfectly done by kicker Conner Brooksby as Pine View came away with the ball. After a sack on first down by Tyson Fisher, the Dixie defense forced three straight incomplete passes to clinch the win.
“This is the longest standing rivalry in St. George and I think the kids feel that,” Dixie coach Andy Stokes said. “It’s a good thing to have rivalries like this. They’ve got some good players over there and we have some good players over here. We were able to make enough plays to come away with the win.”
The two squads met to end the regular season, with Dixie coming away with a 31-28 win with a TD with 13 seconds left.
Early on, it looked like this game may come down to the last few seconds again. Dixie led 7-0 on a 4-yard TD run by Tre Miller, while Pine View matched that score early in the second quarter on a 2-yard TD run by Kobe Topalian.
But the rest of the first half would belong to Miller and the Flyers. After PV’s score, which came at the 8:14 mark of the second quarter, Dixie was forced to punt. But Oki grabbed the ball right back for the Flyers by intercepting Livingston at the Dixie 40 and returning it all the way back to the Pine View 25. Miller took a handoff on the very next play and exploded into the secondary and eventually into the end zone to make it 14-7 with 5:17 to go in the first half.
After a Pine View punt, Harrah showed he can run with the football as well, taking off on scrambles of 15, 17 and 20 yards to lead Dixie up the field once more. Miller finished the drive with a 1-yard dive to make it 21-7 and that was the score at the half.
“My knee’s pretty sore, I didn’t feel like I was very fast, but I tried to make plays,” Harrah said. “I wish I was as quick as Tre and Jaden.”
Pine View opened the second half with a 72-yard drive that led to a 23-yard field goal by Brooksby, making it 21-10. After an exchange of punts, the Panthers again put together a nice drive. Bangerter made a sensational catch, laying out and snagging a deep ball with his fingertips, to make it a 21-16 game on the second play of the fourth quarter.
“He’s one of the best players in the region, if not the state,” Oki said of Bangerter. “He’s an incredible player. He can go up and get any ball thrown his way, no matter where it is. He’s a phenomenal athlete.”
After the Bangerter TD and missed two-point conversion, Dixie and Pine View again exchanged punts. Pine View’s came with six minutes left and the Flyers were able to respond with a long drive. The biggest play of the fourth quarter came when Harrah hit Harrison with that 40-yarder. It came on a third-and-13 with under three minutes left in the game.
“Jaden made a great play,” Harrah said. “He stemmed a dude and got wide open and I just threw him the ball. I did the easy part, he did the hard part.”
With the intensity of the rivalry and some social media jousting leading up to the game, it’s no surprise that there were a lot of penalties. Officials called 22 penalties in the game, with Dixie accounting for 15 of them for 110 yards.
The Flyers gained a total of 341 yards, 121 of those by Miller. Harrah had 174 passing and 48 rushing in the contest. Hobbs Nyberg, Dixie’s sophomore slot receiver, had 99 yards on four receptions.
For Pine View, Livingston passed for 307 yards on 25 of 44 attempts. He had two TDs and one interception. Bangerter finished with eight catches for 133 yards.
Dixie moves into Friday night’s semifinal, where the Flyers (8-2) will take on Tooele (8-3) at 6:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the U of U in Salt Lake City.
Pine View, which had 362 yards, but two turnovers in the game, ends the year with a 6-5 record.
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