PROVO — Nothing could stop Colby Richins during the final minutes of the 2A title game.

Be it a Manti linebacker or a deep thigh bruise flaring up late during North Summit's final drive, Richins found ways to will himself past each obstacle for the good of his team.

"The kid just has guts," Braves coach Jerre Holmes said. "There's no doubt about it. You just don't ask for tougher kids than (what) we've got."

Richins used grit and determination to power North Summit's incredible second-half comeback against the Templars.

He carried the ball five times for 49 yards on the Braves' final drive, taking them from near midfield to the Manti 2-yard line to set up Greg Woolstenhulme's 19-yard field goal with 2.5 seconds left.

Woolstenhulme put the ball perfectly through the uprights as time expired to lift North Summit to a 31-28 victory and hand the Braves their second consecutive 2A championship.

That last-second kick wouldn't have been possible without Richins gaining ground or the line creating openings for him. The senior back piled up 139 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. All but seven came during the final two quarters when the Braves needed them most.

Richins credited his line with picking up on what the Templar defense was doing and adjusting accordingly in the second half.

"Our offensive line just started blowing them off the ball," Richins said. "There was no one there to tackle me."

Richins offered a preview of things to come when he ripped off a 23-yard run to start off North Summit's opening drive of the third quarter. He followed with a 22-yard touchdown that made it 28-21 with 3:19 left in the quarter.

His impact was not limited to the offensive side of the ball. After alternating Richins at defensive end and linebacker in the first half, Holmes left him at linebacker for the entire second half.

The move paid off. Richins came up with a number of huge stops and even stripped the ball from Chase Stevens for the second of back-to-back, drive-killing fumbles for Manti late in the fourth quarter.

"Words can't explain Colby Richins," Braves quarterback Deven Holmes said. "He was hurt the whole game, (but) he's just a gutsy kid."

Things went so well for Richins, even potentially costly mistakes turned into good things.

Shortly after North Summit recovered a fumble at the Templar 37, Richins plowed his way for 18 yards. At the end of the run, a Manti defender forced the ball from his hands.

It bounced off the turf and Bryer Trussell plucked the ball out of the air. He streaked 45 more yards into the end zone, turning a potential turnover into a crucial touchdown that knotted the score at 28-28.

For Richins, Trussell's heads-up play and his own efforts reflected how the Braves approached each game this season.

"That's how we played all year," Richins said. "We never give up. We're a second-half team."


E-mail: jcoon@desnews.com