Beebe, Golden Eagles rally by Spanish Fork in bizarre 4A play-in game

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PROVO — Maple Mountain senior defensive back Brandon Beebe thought he was looking at the final seconds of his high school football career tick off the clock Tuesday evening.

The Golden Eagles trailed Spanish Fork 14-11 with 3.7 seconds left in the Class 4A state play-in game at Provo High School. All the Dons had to do was waste four seconds, take a knee, and walk into the state tournament.

But it was four seconds too many.

“It might have been the last play of my career,” Beebe said. “I might as well give it my all, and I did just that. It was a good play.”

Beebe recovered a fumble with no time on the clock after teammate Jason Blanthorn sacked Spanish Fork quarterback Jason Money, and the 5-foot-9 senior ran it in 25 yards for a touchdown as Maple Mountain beat its crosstown rival 17-14 to advance to the first round.

The Golden Eagles (4-7) advanced to face Region 6 No. 1 seed Woods Cross on Friday.

Maple Mountain students rushed the field, and the Golden Eagles hoisted Beebe in a post-game celebration unlike anything the senior had ever seen. But it all came down to smart football, Maple Mountain coach Brad Burtenshaw said.

“Honestly, the credit for that intellectual play goes to the players,” Burtenshaw said. “They just kept playing, and nobody heard a whistle. We’ve preached that to our kids all year: play ’til the whistle.

Photo: Scott G Winterton/Deseret News
Photo: Scott G Winterton/Deseret News

“All the things that had to go right, the strip, the fumble, the recovery; if he trips and falls, it doesn’t happen. The kids continued to play. That’s the bottom line.”

Maple Mountain jumped out to a lead with 4:58 remaining the first quarter when Tanner Dayton nailed a 50-yard field goal. But the Eagles’ lead vanished on the next play, when Money found Trevor McGuire in stride for a 53-yard gain that set up Taylor Noles’ 12-yard touchdown run.

The Dons (6-6) would add to their lead with 6:16 left in the second quarter when Noles plowed in from the 2-yard line for a 14-3 advantage. Money set up the play with a 14-yard run to the 2, and Noles ran over several defenders for the score. Noles finished with 53 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, and Money was 2-of-6 passing for 82 yards.

But Maple Mountain refused to give up; its defense sacked Money four times, and quarterback Jaren Hall found Canon Miner for a wide-open, 21-yard touchdown pass with 4:37 left to play in the two-quarter play-in game to pull within 14-11 on the two-point conversion pass.

Spanish Fork’s special teams came up with a big play after that, recovering the onside kick attempt before the offense turned the ball over on downs. Defense made back-to-back pass breakups on Hall and then sacked Hall for a loss of 13 yards.

After the Maple Mountain offense couldn’t score, the final outcome appeared a formality as Spanish Fork set up the victory formation with 1:28 left to play.

“The clock’s not up until you go down,” Beebe said through tears as his teammates surrounded him. “I don’t know who stripped it, but they did a heck of a job, and I just looked for a play. I made it.”

The Golden Eagles had an emotional season, losing four games by fewer than two touchdowns, including a 14-6 loss to Region 8 runner-up Salem Hills. After squeaking into the play-in game, Maple Mountain won the coin toss to play the winner of Spanish Fork-Wasatch in the second half of a winner-take-all matchup.

The Dons beat the Wasps 21-0 in the first half at Provo High School to set up the meeting.

“We’ve had a tough season, as far as all the close losses and tough games,” Burtenshaw said. “To have the kids able to have something like that happen, it’s amazing. We’ve had close games, played hard, done a lot of good things. To get another chance to play is all we want.”

Contributing: Jeremiah Jensen

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