"I was just thinking about putting the ball in the uprights," the senior said. "I felt butterflies in my stomach. … Part of me was confident, part of me was worried."
As the kick sailed through the air, the jaws gaped. The referees looked at each other for a long pause before raising their arms, and the Templars rushed the field in triumph.
The drama packed into the final minutes of Manti's 16-13 win over San Juan was enough for an entire game, as the Templars managed to stave off the Broncos in overtime and get their own miracle the longest field goal in any state championship game to repeat as 2A football champions. On a frosty Saturday at Pleasant Grove High School, it was the kicker they lifted on their shoulders, whose name they chanted as the afternoon's hero.
"I put the kids in a tough spot, and they came through," Manti coach Cole Meacham said. "We felt we had as good a chance as anybody. He's missed a few from that range this year really close misses but we felt good about the chance."
The finish was improbable after the teams had managed only 220 yards of offense until the final minute of the fourth quarter. That was when San Juan, which had barely budged after scoring a first-quarter touchdown, started making its charge.
The Broncos passed 65 yards down the field in less than 47 seconds behind quarterback Barkley Christensen, who seemed to find new life when confronted by defeat. With no time left, the senior hit Logan Meyer in the end zone, and the Broncos kicked an extra point to force overtime.
But after all the momentum San Juan got, Manti took it away on the first snap of overtime. Senior Jamen Miller jumped a route and picked off Christensen's pass.
"Our defense was playing big all game, so we just stepped up at the end," Miller said. "I knew we had a good kicker, we had a good kicker we're good. [Garcia] makes them all the time in practice."
The finish was a surprising shakeup to what had been a mostly static battle of field position.
Both San Juan's and Manti's touchdowns had come off of lackluster punts that put them inside 40 yards. Garcia had made field goals of 25 and 27 yards to put the Templars ahead, but neither team had gotten in the end zone since the second quarter before the Broncos made things interesting.
It was the second straight championship for Manti, this one considerably closer than the blowout win over Millard last season. It might have been just that much sweeter.
"It made it fun," Miller said. "This is what we live for."
Storylines Two in a row for Manti
R Manti's Carlo Garcia kicks a 54-yard field goal in overtime for the longest kick in a state title game.
• Jamen Miller comes up with an interception for Manti on the first play of overtime.
• San Juan leads a 65-yard drive in 47 seconds to tie up the game at the end of regulation.