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SPRINGVILLE HOLDS OFF EMERY IN BATTLE OF 5-1 CONTENDERS

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Prep football may have seemed strange being played at midweek, with the UEA shortened school week requiring games to be moved from their typical Friday night slot to Wednesday night.

And Wednesday night's Springville-Emery County matchup may have seemed a little untimely as well - two 5-1 teams squaring off in a midseason non-league pairing of likely 3A playoff contenders. No matter the timing - the third-ranked Red Devils held off the visiting Spartans 20-13. And while its 550-student enrollment may be half that of Springville, Emery County showed that it can compete with the bigger schools at the 3A level.The host Red Devils opened the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run by Roah O'Reily in the first period, with Todd Frischknecht's point-after kick giving Springville a 7-0 lead. Emery answered in the second on a 58-yard TD pass from Derek Stilson to Chris Justice, with Christian Haas' PAT kick knotting the score at 7-all.

Springville then followed with a 10-yard scoring run by John Penrod, with Frischknecht kicking his second conversion. The Red Devils appeared ready to tack on another TD in the closing seconds of the first half when a snap went over the head of Emery punter Ryan Burke, who had to down the ball on the Spartans' 6-yard line.

Three plays later, Burke helped Emery out of a hole by intercepting a pass just in front of the goal line and returning the ball to the Devils' 31. The Spartans had just enough time to attempt one pass before halftime, Stilson's "Hail Mary" heave bouncing off the shoulder of a defender in the end zone and just out of the reach of a diving Justice.

Emery drew closer in the third quarter, as three Stilson passes - two to Justice - aided a sustained Spartan drive. Jon Skipps scored on a dive from 1 yard out, but the PAT kick was wide, leaving Springville with a 14-13 margin. Emery continued to stymie Springville's rushing attack. However, the Spartans suffered a major blow - not only in terms of the game but the rest of the season - when Stilson suffered a broken ankle late in the third quarter. He was replaced at quarterback by his sophomore cousin, Dean Stilson - but the passing precision between new QB and receivers didn't quite click the rest of the way for Emery.

Springville enjoyed two possessions with good field position - both near midfield - in the fourth quarter, but the Spartan defense held its ground, stopping the Red Devils on downs one time and forcing them to punt the other. However, Springville's third possession - which also seemed to stall on a failed third-down conversion - was resurrected by a facemask penalty and a subsequent unsportsmanlike-conduct call with about two minutes left in the game. Penrod picked up a crucial first down moments later and scored an insurance touchdown from 7 yards out to make the score 20-13 - the two-point conversion run failed.

Emery's last-ditch drive ended with an interception by Springville's Frischknecth.

The win boosts Springville's record to 6-1 overall, with the sole loss coming at the hands of 4A Orem. Emery drops to 4-2, with losses to Region 8 powerhouses Springville and Dixie.