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High school football: Murray turns back Skyline in exciting 5A playoff opener

Box score

MURRAY — There may be a reason why Intermountain Medical Center built its towering hospital across the street from Murray High School.

The facility is known for its emergency heart patient care and there could have been plenty of potential customers available Friday evening after the Spartans defeated Skyline 36-28 in a 5A first-round playoff game.

Jarrett Henriksen passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns, but it was Adonis Johnson’s 52-yard interception return in the final minute that helped secure Murray its first home playoff win since 1995 and sent the Spartans forward against another Region 6 rival — Olympus — next Friday.

The Spartans scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage, when Henriksen connected with Autjoe Soe, and the senior speedster raced 80 yards for a touchdown. Murray coach Todd Thompson, however, couldn’t breathe easy until Johnson’s pick six, and the ensuing extra-point kick, gave the Spartans an 8-point lead, and then Ray Okialda intercepted Skyline’s last pass attempt.

“I’ve been doing this (coaching) a long time,” Thompson said. “I have faith in our guys and was pleased how they kept their composure.”

  • Watch replay: Murray 36, Skyline 28

Henriksen had over 200 yards passing by halftime to give Murray a 17-7 lead, but the Eagles rallied immediately after returning from the locker room. Skyline quarterback Braxton Bolingbroke led a nine-play drive that ended with a short touchdown throw to Tyler Limpert. Then the Eagles’ defense contributed with a couple of big defensive plays that led to a safety. Shortly afterward, Bolingbroke took Skyline on another nine-play drive for a score and a 22-16 lead.

Murray rallied on another long touchdown throw from Henriksen — this time to Owen Madsen — but Skyline kept the fans on the edge of their seats when Bolingbroke found Mason Lund on a short pass and Lund created a highlight reel for himself by breaking several tackles to reach the end zone on a 43-yard play. A series of 2-point conversions failed for each team and Skyline held a 28-23 lead with 7:48 left.

“This was a good matchup,” said Skyline coach Michael Carlson, a psychology teacher at the school who had to use all of his education to stay centered during the match. “We had our chances. All we had to do was move the ball near the end, but they forced us into a three-and-out and that was it.”

Murray took over at its own 49, and Henriksen was sacked by Luke Tueller before connecting on two throws to Jaden Durfee that set up a 5-yard run by Nicholas Cooper that gave Murray the lead with 1:44 left.

Trailing 29-28, Skyline was forced to throw and one of Bolingbroke’s deep shots downfield that was grabbed by Johnson, who turned around and saw a wall of Murray teammates ahead and then followed them all the way to the end zone.

“They had been throwing that play all night, and I changed the way I defended it (at halftime),” Johnson said. “As soon as I got it (the interception), I knew I could make it (a touchdown).”

Murray improved its record to 7-3 and assured its best best season since 1994. Skyline, which lost to the Spartans 24-17 a month ago in a Region 6 matchup, finished with a 4-7 mark.