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In a game of inches, Cowboys move closer to Championship

The Millard Eagles flew into town last Friday night for the 2A State Quarterfinal playoff game, as the higher seeded Cowboys were gifted with a home game. The Cowboys faced off against the Eagles earlier in the season and Kanab was victorious 16-13 in a close battle, this one proved to be the same.

Left to right:

  • Logan raises his hands in pure excitement after the Cowboys make a crucial game-saving stop on a two-point conversion try by the Eagles. The Cowboys came out victorious 14-13. Photo by Jeremy Houston.

  • Kash Kabonic makes an unbelieve catch at a critical point in a key Cowboy drive. Photo by Matt Brown.

  • Junior speedster Nate Stewart saves the day by stopping a would-be punt return touchdown by the Eagles and causing a critical fumble, recovered by Troy Federkiel. Photo by Jeremy Houston.

The first quarter saw some miscues by both teams, as the Cowboys recovered a fumble, but failed to convert it into any points. As the first quarter closed, the scoreboard was left empty as neither team was able to score. The Cowboys’ offense got rolling in the second quarter, when Rider Allen rumbled into the end zone for the first score of the game, making it 7-0. The Eagles dished their way down the field to answer with a 40-yard bomb to tie it up 7-7.

Things got interesting late in the quarter, when the Cowboys failed to convert on fourth and five after two dropped passes, and gave it back to the Eagles. The Cowboys got the ball back and McKray Johnson came up with a beautiful catch after it bobble a few times off an Eagle defender to put the Cowboys in the red zone with three seconds left. Coaches elected for a field goal to take the lead, but it missed the uprights and the half ended 7-7.

The second half looked like a movie scene with some back and forth heroics by both teams. The Cowboys picked up a first down on a risky fourth down and one play call, only to throw an interception on the very next play. Then the Eagles elected to take the lead on a field goal, only to see their ball sail right of the uprights and failed to find any points.

One of the most exciting plays of the game, was a great call by the coaches to set up a screen play for Maddix Baird, who after a killer block, took it 80-yards for a touchdown to take a thrilling 14-7 lead. That livened the Eagles up as they took a punt return off to the races and what looked like it would end up as a touchdown, but ended as quickly as it started when speedster Nate Stewart tracked him down from behind, knocking the ball loose to everyone’s surprise as partner in crime Troy Federkeil was there to scoop it up.

The momentum continued for the Cowboys as Federkiel took a counter play 15-yards, Dr. Dre Stubbs tipped a ball to himself to keep the drive alive, the dump truck Rider Allen hauled a few Eagles on his back for more yardage, and finally Kash “money” Kabonic ran a beautiful comeback fade route for another first down. The momentum finally felt like it had shifted all the way to the Cowboys until Bone got sacked from behind, coughing up the ball with Eagles swooping down to snag it.

The Eagles found themselves with a chance to tie the game with eight minutes left and 72-long yards ahead of them. They were up to the challenge as they knocked minutes off the clock and fought closer to the Cowboys end zone and after a long pass play, they ran it in with just minutes remaining. All eyes turned to the Cowboys defense as the Eagles lined up to go for the two-point conversion and the win, instead of settling for a tie. A gutsy call by the Eagles coach, but an even gutsier defensive stand by the Cowboys.

The Eagles handed off left, and after an initial push, our boys held strong with every extra pushup, every extra weight lift, every extra practice in mind to find that extra ounce of energy to prevent the Eagle runner from gaining that extra inch at the goal line, which very likely could have been the end of the Cowboy season. As the Eagle runner fell with a host of Cowboys on top of him, the Cowboys would secure the victory after a failed onside kick try would solidify the Cowboys spot in the semi-final game with the ending score 14-13.

Coach Quarnberg said, “it wasn’t pretty, but we made enough plays to win the game. The stop on the two point conversion was huge. Maddix turned a screen play into a long touchdown and Nate Stewart made one of the best football plays I have ever seen, running down that punt return and punching the ball out.”

It might have been more than inches and more than one play that sealed the victory for the Cowboys, but that goal line stand definitely helped the Cowboys inch closer to the Championship. They will face off against big-time rival Beaver Beavers on Friday, November 3, at 4 p.m. at Zion’s Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. The game will also be streamed on KSL’s website. Go Cowboys!

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