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Unga, Payson keep playoff hopes alive

SPRINGVILLE — It was do or die for the Payson Lions with regard to making the playoffs next week, and the Lions came through when it really mattered.

Payson rode Leroy Unga's two running touchdowns to a 12-7 victory over Springville Friday night.

Had the Red Devils (2-8, 2-4 in Region 7) won, they would have captured the last playoff position from Region 7. As it is, the two teams will meet again at Springville Tuesday night to determine who the final playoff entry from Region 7 will be.

"It was a must win," said Payson coach Jared Woolstenhulme. "We felt like coming in that we needed to run the football and we did a good job of that. We just didn't do a good job of capitalizing when we were in scoring position."

Unga provided the majority of the offense for the Lions (3-6, 2-4) with almost 120 yards on the ground, including just over 70 yards in the first half when Payson scored its two touchdowns.

"He's just a stud," said Woolstenhulme. "I know I can give him the ball and he'll give me everything he has every down. I know he'll drag guys with him if he has to. He'll do what he needs to do to get the play done."

The winning touchdown came with 7:57 remaining in the first half. The Lions recovered a fumbled snap by the Red Devils and handed off to Unga on the next play. Unga rambled 41 yards for the go-ahead score.

Springville's only score came as a result of a 60-yard kickoff return by Trever Jeffers. Unga had just scored from one yard out to put the Red Devils on top 6-0. A personal foul had pushed the kickoff location all the way back to the Lions' 20-yard line. Jeffers fielded the kick and ran it back to the Lions' 11-yard line. Then Luke Frampton ran the ball in five plays later from the two to give the Red Devils the 7-6 lead.

Springville had five possessions in the second half to score and take the lead, but couldn't generate a sustained drive. In fact, the Red Devils didn't move into Payson territory until the last desperate drive of the game.

Isaac Allred connected with Cameron Comer on a 33-yard pass play with nine seconds remaining in the game that moved the ball to the Lions' 31, but a spike and two incomplete passes were the best Springville could make of it.

"I feel real optimistic," said Wolstenhulme about his team's chances on Tuesday. "Springville's a good team, but we've got to play our game. If we do what we're capable of doing, we'll be alright."