Devils go the distance, down Thomas Jefferson in double OT
Eagle Valley football opens the John Davis era in thrilling fashion
GYPSUM — It took 48 minutes of regulation and two overtimes. And in the end, it took just one final stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line for Eagle Valley football come up with a program-defining win in the debut for new coach John Davis over the defending 3A state champions from the truncated spring season.
After struggling to corral Thomas Jefferson running back Jake Tapia all afternoon Saturday, the Devils defense stood tallest when it mattered most. Tapia, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound battering ram, was stacked up at the goal line by a swarm of Devils defenders on the final play to preserve the 38-30 win.
Talk about a great day to be a Devil.
“We knew, in order to win the game, it was going to come down to a stop on No. 22,” an ecstatic, exhausted Davis said after celebrating with his team in the locker room. “Thomas Jefferson is an amazing team, state champions. What we knew is we just had to be on in this game. We came in, and we were on, and they fought just one play after another. We didn’t look at two plays, we didn’t look at three plays, we didn’t look at the end of the game. We said, let’s take one play at a time.”
One play at a time included some huge defensive turnovers that shifted momentum for Eagle Valley after trailing by 8 at halftime.
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The Devils opened the game with a 12-play, 73-yard drive that didn’t include a single pass, with senior quarterback Will Geiman capping the march with a plunge from 3 yards out. The Devils failed to score on the 2-point conversion, and Thomas Jefferson answered with an 11-play, 50-yard drive of its own, with Tapia keeping the sticks moving with big runs on two key third downs.
The Spartans went up 7-6, with the point after, then padded their lead to 14-6 on an 8-play, 61-yard drive in the second quarter that senior quarterback Austin Lindgren finished with a 5-yard TD scamper.
Thomas Jefferson opened the third quarter by driving to Eagle Valley’s 39, but on the next snap, Lindgren bobbled the exchange and the Devils pounced on the loose ball.
On the very next play, Eagle Valley junior Julius Peterson took a handoff off right tackle and sprinted 58 yards for a touchdown. Geiman then converted the 2-point conversion to knot the game at 14 all.
The Devils made it 20-14 just four plays later when senior cornerback Erich Petersen picked off a Lindgren pass that went right off receiver Jeremiah Rodriguez’s hands and into Petersen’s. Petersen plucked the ball out of the air and ran untouched down the sideline for the score.
“Luckiest pick of my life,” Petersen said. “Ball just fell in my hands and I took it.”
The Devils went up 22-14 with another successful conversion. After trading scoreless drives, the Spartans mounted a 10-play, 52-yard drive to open the fourth quarter that Lindgren finished with a touchdown run from the 8 on fourth-and-3. Thomas Jefferson converted, making it 22-22.
After either team failed to score by the end of regulation, Eagle Valley scored on its first overtime possession in three plays from the 10-yard line, with Geiman plunging in from the 1, followed by a 2-point conversion. Thomas Jefferson answered, with Lindgren scoring from 3 yards out on another fourth-down play, and then converting as well.
After another Eagle Valley touchdown and conversion — another Geiman TD followed by Petersen sweeping around the corner for 2 points — Thomas Jefferson had four cracks from the 10 to keep the game going. It got as close as a half-yard out, with the Devils standing up Tapia to hold onto the win and leading Eagle Valley’s student section to storm the field.
“I’m so proud of my coaching staff,” David said. “They’ve done an absolutely fantastic job. The kids have worked hard. They’ve come in and we’ve done some different things, we’ve put in a new offense and put in a new defense and we’ve asked a lot of them and they’ve just done an amazing job. I’m very proud of them.”