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High school football: Springville touchdown as time expires sends Red Devils to 5A title game

Springville’s Bryan Gordon, right, and Miles Farley get emotional while embracing each other after beating Orem High School in the 5A football state semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.
Springville’s Bryan Gordon, right, and Miles Farley get emotional while embracing each other after beating Orem High School in the 5A football state semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Box Score

In last season’s 5A girls basketball state championship, Springville’s Lauryn Deede put in a buzzer-beating layup to clinch a state title for the Red Devils.

It appears that the “clutch gene” runs in the Deede family.

Just over eight months after Lauryn sunk her shot, it was her brother, Walker, who caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Ryder Burton as time expired in Thursday’s 5A state semifinal game between Springville and Orem at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The buzzer-beating touchdown secured the Red Devils’ first championship game appearance since 2016.

With two seconds left on the clock, Springville huddled and received a play call that Burton said his team had never run before. In the same huddle, Burton told Deede to go and make a play.

“He said, ‘Walker, go run your nine (route),’” Deede said of the preplay conversation. “I said, ‘OK,’ went and did it, and we ended up winning the game.”

The Springville sideline cleared as everyone rushed to Deede to celebrate his season-saving snag.

The play capped off a 13-play, 73-yard drive and a 12-point comeback for Springville over the game’s final eight minutes. The play also denied the Tigers a chance at a fifth straight state title victory.

“We watched and (Orem) were trying to double cover Cole (Clement) and (Bradey) Mortensen because they had made big plays so we knew (Deede) was probably going to be the most open,” Springville head coach Willy Child said.

“We joke with him that out of all the receivers Deede’s got the best hands, so we knew if we could get the ball close to him he’d make the catch.”

The touchdown catch was Deede’s third catch of the drive — the two others moved the chains on third- and fourth-down plays.

Trailing by five points with 2:59 to play, Springville’s Porter Small forced an Orem fumble, giving the Red Devils a chance to potentially score a late, go-ahead touchdown, but Burton was picked off by Eniasi Matina two plays later.

It now felt that Orem — which finished the game averaging 5.0 yards per rushing play — had full control of the game. With hope seemingly at a minimum, Springville’s defense stepped up to force an Orem punt with only 25 seconds taken off the clock after Child burned his three timeouts.

With 1:42 on the clock, the game was now turned over Burton and a Springville offense that had had just turned it over the series before and wasn’t necessarily built to thrive in a 2-minute situation.

But Child had no doubt that Burton would bounce back from the turnover and lead the team down the field.

“Ryder is probably the most confident kid on our team, in a good way,” Child said. “He just wanted another chance and he was encouraging our defense because he knew that he had a few more plays to make.”

The junior quarterback was leaned on a bit more in the game as Orem did a solid job containing Springville star running back Seth Rigtrup, who managed just 45 yards on 14 carries — his third lowest rushing yardage output of the season.

Burton finished 19-for-35 for 208 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. It wasn’t a lights-out performance from the signal-caller, but he simply made big plays when his team needed them the most.

Burton attributed the success he and his team had to the Springville supporters for giving them the boost they needed to make the final surge in the fourth quarter.

“You can thank them,” Burton said, pointing to the crowd. “The crowd kept us in this game. The energy they brought was unreal and actually resulted in (Orem) making some miscues.”

The Red Devils now have the chance to win their first first football state championship since 1985. Child recalled being in attendance at that game 36 years ago when he was just a freshman.

“It’s well overdue, but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Child said. “They know that the reason we’ve gotten this far is because they’ve focused in practice, so we’ll continue to do that.”