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High school football: Clash between Cache Valley’s best comes down to the last second as Sky View tops Ridgeline

The Bobcats defeated the RiverHawks 17-14, on a 28-yard field goal by kicker Kasen Erickson with nine seconds remaining

Sky View celebrates after their game-winning field goal during a high school football game at Ridgeline High School in Millville on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
Sky View celebrates after their game-winning field goal during a high school football game at Ridgeline High School in Millville on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

MILLVILLE — Fitting.

That is the best way to describe the ending to Thursday night’s showdown between the Sky View Bobcats and the Ridgeline RiverHawks.

The teams came into the game ranked No. 1 (Sky View) and No. 2 (Ridgeline) in the 4A classification. Both were undefeated with their sights set squarely on winning the Region 11 title, and much more — a state championship — later on.

The Bobcats and RiverHawks also boasted the two best scoring offenses in Cache Valley this season entering play, not to mention the two best scoring defenses.

The game, the showdown, the rivalry — whatever you call it, it needed to come down to the last second.

So it was only fitting that with nine seconds remaining, Sky View kicker Kasen Erickson, affectionately known as “Kicks,” drilled the game-winning field goal from 28 yards out, lifting the Bobcats past the RiverHawks 17-14.

“The thing about Kasen Erickson is he kicks all day every day,” Sky View head coach Chris Howell said. “There is not another kicker in the state that I’d rather have in that situation. He executed and he did a great job.”

Erickson’s game-winner was only possible thanks to the timely play of the Sky View defense, and really the defense’s showing all night long.

Ridgeline averaged over 40 points a game through four games this year, but the Bobcats limited the RiverHawks to only two scoring drives, one late in the third quarter, the other late in the fourth.

And with under two minutes remaining in the game, with Ridgeline possessing the ball and things knotted up at 14 points apiece, the Bobcats’ defense came up with the plays needed, chief among them being by a forced fumble that was recovered by Cole Watterson.

That recovery set up Sky View’s game-winning drive and was really the culmination of a night’s work.

“We do what we do. We run what we run,” Howell said. “Our goal was to get pressure on the quarterback (Kaden Cox) and we did it at times. We wanted to force them to march the length of the field and we did that all night. We gave up a couple of chunk yards when they made great plays, and they have great players. But then at the end we came out and we made our own play (the fumble and recovery), outside of whatever else was going on, and we were able to execute a couple of plays and then Kasen kicked the field goal.”

It wasn’t a perfect night for the Bobcats, though, who struggled offensively, outside of a scoring drive to open the second half that put them up 14-0. The Bobcats only other touchdown came early in the first quarter, when defensive back Isaac Larsen returned a blocked field goal 61 yards for a score.

Quarterback Kasen Carlsen threw multiple interceptions and running back Walter Collins struggled get much purchase on the ground. It was frustrating night for what traditionally is a high-powered attack.

“We were not happy,” said Howell. “We didn’t get into any sort of offensive rhythm. Credit to Ridgeline. They did a great job.”

Ridgeline’s Cox, Evan Webb and Jaden Harris, meanwhile, combined to wake up the RiverHawks’ offense in the second half after a scoreless first. Cox found Webb for a 13-yard reception just before the end of the third quarter, on a drive that featured a great deal of Harris running the ball.

Cox then rushed for the RiverHawks’ second score late in the fourth quarter, tying the game with just under three minutes remaining.

After the Sky View offense was stymied once again, everything looked to be going in Ridgeline’s favor, up until the fumble recovery by Watterson and then the kick by Erickson.

“I knew (it was good) right when it left my foot,” said Erickson. “I was ready for it. Perfect hold, perfect snap. It was awesome.”

As was the win.

“That was so fun,” Erickson said. “That was a fun game. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”