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Goal-line stand preserves Bee win

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HYRUM — The Mountain Crest offense is probably glad it doesn't have to face the Box Elder defense again any time soon.

The Bees allowed the Mustangs a handful of plays that kept them in the game, but with the game on the line in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Box Elder stood firm and came up with a goal-line stand to earn a hard-fought 17-10 victory. The win makes the Bees 4-3 on the year and 2-0 in the Region 4 standings. The loss drops the Mustangs to 3-3 and 1-1. The game proceeded like a four-act play that started slow in the first half and built to a dramatic climax, ending on the last play. The first half was a defensive struggle, with both teams unable to get anything going offensively.

Then Box Elder took a turn with the momentum. The Bees broke a 0-0 tie in the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown run near the six-minute mark of the third quarter. The score was followed minutes later by a 34-yard field goal by Jason Jeppsen and the Bees were suddenly up 10-0. It looked like Box Elder would break the game open on the very next play from scrimmage with safety Jordan Brown picked up a Mike Zollinger fumble and returned it 30 yard for a touchdown.

Staring at a 17-0 deficit in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs bucked back. Completions were few and far between for Zimmerman as he spent most of the night running from the Box Elder pass rush. But on a third-and-6 play, quarterback Brady Zimmerman hooked up with receiver Brady Sayama for a 39-yard touchdown. Moments later, kicker Braden Whiting put Mountain Crest within seven points of the Bees as he connected on a 47-yard field goal. The score set the stage for a thrilling finish. After making a few first downs, Box Elder was forced to punt and pinned Mountain Crest down on their five-yard line. Prospects looked grim for the Mustangs until receiver Cameron Webb got behind Brown and hauled in a 79-yard pass from Zimmerman that game the Stangs first and goal with 30 seconds to go.

"I thought I could pick it," Brown said. "But it was a better throw than I thought."

A Zollinger run for no gain and another incompletion left the Mustangs with third and goal. That's when Bees' defensive lineman Rhett Robinson broke threw and sacked Zimmerman. With the clock down to seven seconds, Zimmerman took the snap and was almost sacked again as he threw the ball. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the pass landed in the arms of linebacker Brett Boyce, sealing the game for Box Elder. Zimmerman, who averages around 200 yards passing a game, finished the night 7-for-22 for 149, two interceptions and one touchdown.

Wes Roesler couldn't stop smiling as he talked about his defense's performance following the game.

"The defense was awesome. I was expecting OT," he said. "That was one of our best pass rushes all year and the defense kept us in good field position."

Boyce said he started to panic when the 'Stangs mounted the last drive, but he was confident they could pull out the victory.

"Our defense may have given up some big plays, but we battled the adversity to win the game. This game was huge for us. Now if we can win out, we can get region."