WOODS CROSS — Penalties can put a football team in a huge hole. The team can either dig itself out of the hole or stay buried in it.
The Sky View Bobcats dug out of two on their way to scores that gave them the edge en route to a 22-12 win over Woods Cross Thursday night. Sky View clinched the Class 4A, Region 5 title and a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs with the win in a game riddled with penalty markers. The teams combined for more than 200 penalty yards in the game.
"It feels good, its been a battle all year, it's a tough region," said Sky View coach Christopher Howell. "Our kids ... overcame some adversity early in the season."
The Bobcats had the ball just past midfield leading 9-6 late in the third quarter. On first down, a holding penalty put them back to their own 37. A sack on the next play left Sky View facing 2nd and 30 from its own 30.
That's when the Bobcats clawed out. Quarterback Kyler Carlsen found Zach Saxton for a 20-yard gain on second down. An offsides penalty on Woods Cross gave Sky View 3rd and 4, on which Kyle Allen ran for 6 yards to move the chains.
Three plays later, all-everything back McKade Brady lined up in shotgun, faked a run and found a wide open Saxton in the end zone for a lead Sky View would preserve.
"I usually run the ball, so everyone thought I would run and (Saxton) was wide open," said Brady, who also had 8 carries for 65 yards on the night.
Sky View's first major penalty came on a holding call that set the Bobcats back to 1st and 31 at their own 25. Carlsen, who had been misfiring to that point, heated up to move his team down the field. Three straight completions to Saxton, Brady and Stuart Gunnell quickly put Sky View at the Wildcat 25.
From there, Brady took a direct snap 23 yards to the 2, and on fourth and goal Carlson hit Austin Miller for the game's first score.
"It seemed like the (penalty) flag was a bug tonight," said Howell. "We were in situations that you don't want to be in ... offensively, but the kids just kept fighting."
It was Senior Night at Woods Cross, a night that found Brayden Burningham and Jordan Smith playing valiantly in their last game. Burningham, who was stellar from his cornerback spot all night, picked off a Carlsen pass near midfield and Smith cashed in with a 25-yard TD strike to fellow senior Johnathon Feller to tie the game at 6.
"I'm proud of every one of (the seniors)," said Wildcat coach Freddy Fernandes. "These seniors were a big part of (a successful season)."
Woods Cross got the ball back with 45 seconds left in the half, but Adam Weston picked off a Smith pass. The turnover led to a Ben Brooksby field goal that gave Sky View a 9-6 halftime lead.
Smith hit on an 80-yard touchdown bomb to Jake Cusick that brought Woods Cross within 3 points in the third. Sky View's Cody Godfrey ran 11 yards for the game-icing touchdown, as the Bobcats now prepare for postseason play.