Everyone is going to remember Bret Barben’s 10-yard touchdown reception from Zak Harrah with 13 seconds remaining to put the Dixie Flyers on top.
But the moment that set up the game-winning touchdown took place 99 yards away on the other side of the field.
Pine View quarterback Riley Livingston handed off the ball to Kobe Topalian on fourth and goal to try and get a touchdown that would have given the Panthers an 11-point lead with four minutes to go. The Flyer defensive players pounced onto Topalian, whose momentum nearly pulled him over the line. However, enough Flyers jumped in front of him to push back and keep him out of the end zone — turnover on downs.
The Flyers then marched 99 yards to win the game on a fourth down and eight touchdown pass from Harrah to Barben. Harrah received the shotgun snap at the Pine View 10-yard line and moved left.
The Panthers had that side of the field shut down, so Harrah rolled right, and rolled, and rolled. He went as far to the Dixie sideline as he could go before rifling a pass through the Panther zone and finding Barben in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Dixie won the game 31-28, clinched a share of the 3AA South region championship, and it secured the No. 1 seat in this year’s Utah 3AA State Football Championship.
A winded Harrah gave all the credit to his teammates.
“Brett fumbled early and it got to him, but that’s a great job by him to bounce back and win the game for us,” Harrah said. “Kudos to Pine View. They knew how to play defense and made it hard on us.”
Wide receiver Jaden Harrison said the offensive line made it happen for Harrah on that final play.
“Our offensive line stepped up big,” Harrison said. “I can’t hold them up high enough for how well they played. Give them all the credit.”
Harrison finished the game with nine catches for 141 yards and one touchdown.
Harrah said the Flyers were energized running onto the field for offense after watching their defense stand up and stop the Panthers.
“I love our defense,” he said. “They struggle sometimes, but they pick it back up. I just love those guys.”
Harrah finished 12 of 27 for 179 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Running back Tre Miller got Dixie’s offense started with two first half touchdowns. He also reeled off a couple of big runs in the Flyers’ 99-yard march to the end zone on their final drive. Miller finished with 25 carries, 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Pine View trailed 17-7 in the first half before Topalian punched in a 2-yard touchdown run just before halftime. The Flyers muffed a punt return that the Panthers recovered to set up the score.
The Panthers came out of the break and took the lead when Livingston threw a jump ball into the corner of the end zone for Steve Bangerter. It was just high enough for Bangerter to win the leap and come down with the reception for the touchdown — 21-17, Panthers.
Following Harrah’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Harrison, Pine View answered with a 37-yard touchdown stomp by Topalian — 28-24, Pine View.
Next week, Pine View visits Park City in a play-in game. If the Panthers win, they have to play at Dixie again.
NOTES: Dixie High School retired the No. 17 at halftime, which belonged to Doug Jolley, the former Dixie Flyer who played for the BYU Cougars and the NFL. He started in Super Bowl XXXVII for the Oakland Raiders.
Follow Richard Briggs on Twitter, @BriggsRich. Call him at 435-674-6233.