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High school football: Payson rallies in the fourth to slip past Orem

OREM — After failing to show up in the first half, the Payson Lions rallied from behind with 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to nip the Orem Tigers 20-13 on Friday night. The come-from-behind victory gave first-year head coach Jeremy Chapman his first win as a Lion.

"It's huge," Chapman said of recording his first win as head coach. "It feels like a huge relief is lifted, and it makes me excited to get in there next week."

Payson (0-0, 1-1) fell behind early as Orem capitalized on exceptional field position offered up by the Lions early in the first half. Tiger running back Jeremiah Tiatia powered into the end zone from 6 yards out to give Orem (0-0,0-2) an early 7-0 lead after taking over on the Lion 25-yard line following a botched punt. Orem's fleet-footed quarterback, Brayden Hill, quickly extended the Tiger lead to 13-0 when he scampered 39 yards for the score later in the quarter.

Just as the Tigers appeared to be running away with an easy win, the Payson offense decided to flex its muscles behind quarterback Colton Cannon and running back Cris Robbins. The two hooked up for a 38-yard pass down to the Tiger five-yard line when Cannon placed the ball in between two Tiger defenders and Robbins made the diving catch. A five-yard touchdown pass on the next play from Cannon to Jeremiah Guzman cut the Tiger lead to 13-7 just before the half.

"That score right there at the end of the half was huge for us," Chapman added. "They showed the heart that everybody that knows these kids knows that they have."

The Payson defense came out in the second half with something to prove after giving up 13 first-half points. The defensive line in particular stepped up as Josh Ross recorded two sacks in crucial situations. Not to be out done, fellow defensive lineman Garrett Sorenson came up with two sacks of his own. The defense rallied on its high emotion to shut the Tigers out in the second half.

Although the defense did its part, the offense continued to struggle until early in the fourth quarter when Robbins began to touch the ball on nearly every play. The 5-foot-8 junior carried much of the offensive load as he lead the Lions down the field in the final quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter Robbins caught a 34-yard touchdown pass to tie the game, 13-13.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Robbins and the Lions marched down the field setting up Cannon for what would be the game winning 5-yard touchdown run. Payson's defense would then hold off the Tigers final drive and salvage the win.

"These kids rise to challenges," Chapman said. "They didn't back down and they recovered."