SPANISH FORK — North Sanpete came into Friday's game against Maple Mountain expecting a dog fight, and that's exactly what it got.
After taking a big early lead, the Hawks found their backs pinned to the wall in the fourth quarter.
They took a defensive stand on Maple Mountain's two-point conversion attempt in the final minute for North Sanpete to escape 28-27 win.
For Maple Mountain, the game was as close as the second-year school has come to finding its first victory on the football field. The Golden Eagles, with their roster still dominated by underclassmen, will probably think long and hard about their decision to go for two and the win instead of an overtime-forcing PAT late in the fourth quarter.
"I knew we were coming in against a school that was desperately seeking its first win ever," said North Sanpete coach Casey Jenson. "I told my guys probably a dozen times this week they're just waiting for that right time. They're working hard and trying to execute. I just wanted our guys to know that they could very much come out and beat us."
On Maple Mountain's next drive, a fumbled snap rolled back into the end zone and Bradee Sunderland pounced on it to give North Sanpete a 21-0 lead.
The tide started to turn just halftime when the Golden Eagles recovered a fumble on the Hawks' 10-yard line. KJ Hall turned it into a 2-yard TD run to make the score 21-7 at the break.
Hall scored again early in the third quarter to cut the North Sanpete lead to one touchdown, but the Hawks answered back with a 1-yard TD run by Bird.
Maple Mountain took advantage of some big plays in the fourth quarter to score back-to-back touchdowns — the first on a 1-yard run by Hall, and the second when quarterback Tyson Jex found Hall open in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard TD pass with 52 seconds left in the game.
That set up the potential game-winning conversion attempt. The Golden Eagles predictably put the ball in the hands of Hall, who had already accounted for most of their points, but the sophomore running back ran into a wall of defenders trying to sweep outside and was dropped well short of the goal line.
"Momentum is a funny thing," said Jenson. "Frankly we got a little lucky. I think the defense just pulled one out of their hats. They decided to be winners tonight instead of letting the wheels fall off."