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Before he turned toward the end zone, Connor Mendevil saw his quarterback scrambling from the swarming pass rushers with a season on the brink.
He ran down, then looked back. There was the ball, inches away from his fingers.
"I looked at it all the way in, just like my dad always taught me," Mendevil said. "Just watch it in to your hands, all the way to the end zone."
On fourth down and long in overtime, Timpview saved its season with a breathtaking, how-did-he-do-that jump pass from Jake Lloyd that sailed 20 yards into Mendevil's hands for a touchdown. Only five plays later in the second overtime, Lloyd won it for his team, dashing around the end from 7 yards out for the go-ahead score in a 38-31 victory over Mountain Crest at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
On Friday night, the Thunderbirds were Class 4A football champions again the fifth time in seven years.
"We've had a mediocre couple years," Lloyd said. "But it's where Timpview deserves to be."
It was a tight game, a shootout that truly began only six minutes before the end of regulation. Timpview and Mountain Crest combined for 38 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, as each team's stars fought for survival.
But the brightest was Lloyd, who overcame a lackluster first half to throw for 328 yards and three touchdowns while also gaining 80 yards on the ground.
Lloyd's touchdown run in double overtime set up the Thunderbirds to win, and then a fourth-down sack by teammate Pita Taumoepenu sent the team storming out onto the field. Joyful embraces closed a disappointing year for Timpview off the field, which included an ousting of coach Louie Wong and forfeiting wins for using ineligible players.
"They took away our coach, they took away our wins, they took away our region championships," Lloyd said. "They couldn't take away how hard we worked. So after we worked so hard, it was amazing to have this pay off."
For most of the game, it was the Mustangs who were in charge. Early turnovers helped give Mountain Crest an edge, and cornerback Moroni Laulu Pututau effectively blanketed top Timpview receiver Dax Raymond. After a first half filled with penalty flags and incomplete passes, the Thunderbirds were down 9-7 with their offense struggling.
But even though Eddy Hall and Jamison Webb were grinding at Timpview with the run, the Thunderbirds caught some steam. Lloyd threw long touchdowns to Raymond and Britain Covey in the second half, giving the team its first lead.
When Pututau capped a 47-yard drive with a touchdown catch with less than two minutes remaining, the Thunderbirds drove 66 yards. Tyler Solarzano kicked a game-tying 31-yard field goal as time expired to give his team another chance.
Mountain Crest took first possession, and Hall burst through a crowded pack for a 10-yard touchdown. But after Lloyd led Timpview to back-to-back scores, Webb couldn't do the same, thanks to tremendous defensive pressure. The Thunderbirds finished with eight sacks, Taumoepenu's fourth and final takedown setting the record for most by one team in a championship.
Lloyd tied a record himself, finishing his career by tying Riley Nelson's mark with 53 touchdown passes in a season. His 81-yard strike to Raymond, a hitch-and-go that was one of their few hookups, gave Raymond a tie for most touchdown receptions with Logan's Richie Geertsen.
But Timpview's senior quarterback was unconcerned with such things after the game, looking toward the sideline as if peering through fog. When he saw offensive coordinator and playcaller Chad Van Orden finally descend from the stadium rafters, he leapt into his arms.
"We did it, coach," he said, gripping him tightly. "We did it."
Storylines Thunderbirds' time
R Timpview musters 337 yards and 31 points after halftime.
• Jake Lloyd throws for 328 yards and three touchdowns, tying a state record for touchdown passes in a season.
• The Thunderbirds sack Mustangs quarterback Jamison Webb eight times, with Pita Taumoepenu coming up with four.