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EAST’S STORYBOOK SEASON STILL ALIVE WITH 20-14 WIN

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Don't close the book - storybook, that is - on the East Leopards. Unwilling to enter the final chapter in the school's most successful football season in 21 years, the Leopards advanced to the 4A state quarterfinals Saturday with a 20-14 victory over Mountain Crest.

"These kids believe. Hopefully it can continue," said East coach Chris Georgelas. "I'm really happy for the kids and the school."East not only upped its record to 7-3 overall, but advanced to the final eight for the first time since 1980. Confidence is is no short supply with the Leopards.

"We should have at least three more games," said senior Bernard Bendinger, who scored two touchdowns against the Mustangs. "We should be in the final."

The first postseason step toward a storybook finish, however, proved to be a tough one.

Leading 20-7 with less than five minutes remaining, the Leopards withstood a furious Mountain Crest rally down the stretch. The Mustangs closed the gap to six points when quarterback Nate Hansen teamed with T.J. Hess on a 23-yard touchdown pass with 4:17 to play. An ensuing on-sides kick failed, but Mountain Crest managed to secure two offensive sets in the closing minutes.

"Nothing ever comes easy does it?" mused Georgelas. "It's pretty consistent, but it's been a great year."

The first Mustang threat was foiled when Chris Kerr intercepted a pass for the Leopards, while the second followed an East punt with 40 seconds to play.

Faced with the task of driving 93 yards for the win, the Mustangs fell victim to East's pressure defense. Seven plays featured five incompletions and ended with a quarterback sack.

"I thought our defense played great," said Georgelas. "We put pressure on them all day. That's what we need to do."

The Leopards offense wasn't bad either.

East scored on its first possession when Bendinger reached the end zone from 4 yards out. The four-play drive, which took less than three minutes off the clock, was highlighted by a 74-yard run by Stephen Agbor.

Mountain Crest countered with a 46-yard score by Nick Olsen, but never reached the end zone again until the fourth quarter. In the meantime, East capitalized on a safety when Mustang starting quarterback Travis Cox downed the ball in the end zone; watched Bendinger dash 58 yards for his second touchdown; and increased its 17-7 halftime advantage when Ben Lowe hit a 34-yard field goal.

Class 3A quarterfinals

Hurricane 29, Emery 28: The Tigers overcame a 22-6 halftime deficit to surprise the northern champions. Todd Clyde started the rally with a 38-yard touchdown run. Emery's last gasp came on a two-point conversion attempt that fell short with three minutes remaining.

Snow Canyon 30, Uintah 6: Brooksby Stafford rushed for 149 yards and scored a touchdown as the top-ranked Warriors dethroned the defending 3A champions. Snow Canyon (10-0) will host Wasatch in the semifinals.

Class 2A quarterfinals

San Juan 19, Morgan 12: Josh Tate scored two touchdowns as the second-ranked Broncos outlasted the visiting Trojans. Tate Bennett connected on a 35-yard scoring strike to John David Nielson for San Juan's other score.