LPHS defeats Ennis in heart-pounding overtime
By Al Malinowski EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – The Lone Peak High School varsity football team felt October magic at its Homecoming matchup Friday night.
On an evening that saw multiple lead changes, the Big Horns found a way to make one more play than the Ennis Mustangs and earned a hard-fought 38-36 dramatic overtime victory. With the homecoming win over the Mustangs (2-4) in front of a large and spirited crowd, the Big Horns (2-4) are running with a two-game winning streak.
Prior to kickoff, Big Horn Head Coach James Miranda said the two teams were evenly matched and that the game would come down to which team comes more prepared. Over 70 percent of both teams’ rosters are made up of freshmen and sophomores and neither squad had much experience in close high-stakes games.
Former players and coaches often refer to football as the ultimate team game. The Big Horns proved it as multiple players contributed to the team’s success, including relentless effort from the offensive and defensive lines that aided in the victory.
After Lone Peak’s opening drive ended in a punt, Ennis took an early 6-0 early lead on a possession culminating with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior Jacob Johnson. The Mustangs attempted an extra point, but Big Horn junior George Helms found a seam in the offensive line and blocked the kick.
On the Big Horns’ next possession, sophomore quarterback Juliusz Shipman connected with freshman Bridger Flores on a go pattern. Flores was gang tackled at the Mustang 5-yard line and fumbled, but senior Isaac Singer recovered the ball to maintain possession. On fourth down, Shipman scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak and after a failed Point After Touchdown, or PAT, the score was tied, 6-6.
In the second quarter, Ennis turned the ball over twice on downs, and both times Lone Peak would capitalize. Shipman scored on another 1-yard sneak and later found Helms on an out pattern for a 20-yard score. Both PAT attempts failed. Ennis completed the first half with a 15-yard run from Jacob Johnson, adding a 2-point PAT pass from senior quarterback Brand Ostler to junior Nicholas Johnson. The Big Horns led at halftime, 18-14.
The Mustangs took the lead and the momentum with their first possession of the second half. Ostler again connected with Nicholas Johnson for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Mustangs converted on the 2-point conversion on an option pitch from Ostler to Jacob Johnson to take a 22-18 lead.
After Lone Peak threw an interception in the end zone and an Ennis punt following their next possession, Shipman lofted a deep pass to Flores who had snuck behind the Ennis safety for a 32-yard touchdown. Ennis responded with another Jacob Johnson run, this time from 19 yards out. A successful PAT pass from Ostler to Nicholas Johnson gave Ennis the lead 30-24.
Lone Peak next turned the ball over on downs, and with the ball deep in Big Horn territory and Ennis looking to run the clock out or take a two-score lead, an aggressive Big Horn defense stripped the ball from a Mustang runner, and senior Henry Slade recovered it at the Big Horn 21-yardline with three minutes to play.
Lone Peak would use every second of those three minutes to tie the game. With two seconds remining on the clock, Shipman heaved a desperate pass to the end zone. The ball, tipped by both a Big Horn receiver and Mustang defender, appeared headed for the deep blue end zone turf before Helms snatched it out of the air.
While he wasn’t the intended receiver, Helms was in the right spot just at the right time. After a missed PAT, the game went into overtime with the score locked at 30 apiece.
In overtime, the Big Horns took control. Junior Pierce Farr scored on the first play from scrimmage on a powerful 10-yard run. This time, Lone Peak added the two-point conversion, their first successful attempt of the game. Ennis countered with a five-yard touchdown run from Jacob Johnson, his fourth touchdown of the game, but the Big Horns shoved him out of bounds on the PAT attempt before he could reach the end zone, sealing their victory.
Next week, Lone Peak will try to extend its winning streak to three with a home game against the Twin Bridges Falcons (2-4) on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m.
The Ophir Miners (3-1) were idle this week after the Ennis Middle School team canceled their Friday night game. The Miners will travel to Park City on Monday afternoon for a rescheduled game with the Sheridan Panthers, and will also take on the Twin Bridges Middle School team Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. for their first home game of the season.