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Taylorsville defeats Copper Hills on late fumble return

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WEST JORDAN—It was about time for Taylorsville to regret all the what-could-have-beens. Then Wyatt Brown scooped up a fumble and dashed nearly 80 yards for a touchdown.

It was eerily quiet as Brown made his way up the right sideline. Taylorsville's contingent was worried about a flag on the field. Copper Hills was hushed because if the play stood, it would give the Grizzlies a mere 2:40 to rally from a 25-22 hole.

No penalty, the officials decided. Then, the Warriors nailed the point-after, their first made kick of the game. The Grizzlies, who turned the ball over four consecutive times to end the contest, couldn't muster another score and lost a heartbreaker on the eve of the big dance to their 5A non-league rivals.

"The ball was just chillin' on the ground," Brown said of what proved to be the game-winning touchdown romp. "I didn't see the flag. I looked

back and saw my coach, and he had his arms up (indicating a touchdown), so I figured it was good."

It was a fitting end to a game that seemed up for grabs for the most opportunistic team. Copper Hills (3-2) and Taylorsville (2-3) combined for only 353 total offensive yards, but each team scored on a kickoff return and had ample opportunity to score on a short field. The teams combined for 12 turnovers and 10 punts.

Taylorsville's first golden opportunity came on its opening drive, after Taylor Mattson set his team up in the red zone by returning the Grizzlies' punt to the 19-yard line. The five-play, 18-yard drive stalled on the 1-foot line, where Copper Hills took over after an unsuccessful fourth-down conversion attempt.

"That's been happening to us the past few weeks," said Blake Henricksen, whose 92-yard kickoff return gave the Warriors an 18-13 cushion in the third period. "When we got stopped on the goal line, we got more motivated. A huge rush went through the whole team."

Henricksen's kick return to open the second half was well-timed for the Warriors, who were primed to take a 12-7 lead into the half until Mike Erickson (four catches, 83 yards) hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Damen Wilkins (11-for-19, 135 yards and three interceptions) in the final seconds of the second period. Henricksen bobbled the ball initially, then spun through a cluster of defenders and crossed the field to avoid being tackled by the kicker. One final would-be tackler slid off the 6-foot-1 senior before he reached paydirt. Kendall Gritton scored on an 86-yard kickoff return immediately after Taylorsville's first touchdown, a 26-yard pass from Mike Ramirez (4-for-11, 153 yards and two interceptions) to Mattson.

While each team scored rushing and passing, neither squad's offense was a juggernaut. Copper Hills posted 200 total yards, and the Grizzles spent much of the game handing off to Damian Tippets (53 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries). Taylorsville's ground attack managed only 37 net yards on 23 attempts.