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Cedar City • Zach Hoffman wasn't worried. His head coach certainly was.
After a fumbled snap on a fourth-quarter punt led to a touchdown, the junior signal-caller for Juan Diego simply snapped on his chin strap and went to work. The end result was another 3A state championship.
Hoffman connected with Dallin Davis on a 52-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and Max Butkovich came up with the clinching interception that gave the Soaring Eagle a 35-21 victory over the Delta Rabbits in the title game played at Eccles Coliseum.
The win gave Juan Diego its seventh state title under head coach John Colosimo.
Following the special teams miscue, Delta running back Reygan Riding found a hole and scored a 38-yard touchdown that trimmed the lead for Juan Diego (8-4) to 27-21. On a third-and-7, Hoffman threw a perfect pass that hit Davis in stride as he cruised into the end zone.
"I was thinking let's go, get the ball back, go down the field and score one ourselves," Hoffman said. "I wasn't worried. I knew our offense would come back and fight hard."
For Colosimo, the feeling of satisfaction was strong.
"When you get into a state championship game, you're not going to play anyone that's a pushover. Delta certainly wasn't," he said. "They got better as the year went on and came out with a good game plan to defend against us. We overcame penalties and got some big plays."
As he watched the bad snap on the punt and the ensuing Delta touchdown, Colosimo was "scared to death."
"I've lost two state championship games by one point, and I thought we would lose this one 28-27," he said. "Hoffman made a great pass, put it right on the money, and Dallin got his second touchdown. I'm so happy for those guys. They're both juniors and it bodes well for the future.
"These kids are making it hard for me to retire, the way they come back and keep playing hard."
Juan Diego never trailed in the game, but Delta (9-4) didn't go quietly. The Rabbits got on the board for the first time early in the second quarter when Dallin Draper capped a 10-play, 79-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown. Hoffman helped the Eagle answer on their next possession with a 3-yard run on third down that pushed the lead to 21-7 at the half.
Hoffman scored on a 7-yard run with 9:28 to play in the fourth quarter, but Alex Saunders' point-after hit the upright to keep the Rabbits within range at 27-14.
Riding added the other Delta touchdown in the third quarter when he scored on a 17-yard run.
Hoffman's first touchdown to Davis was a 25-yarder that got the scoring started on Juan Diego's opening drive.
Juan Diego 35, Delta 21
R Juan Diego wins its seventh state title in 17 years under head coach John Colosimo.
• Junior quarterback Zachary Hoffman throws two touchdown passes to Dallen Davis and runs for two more scores.
• Delta falls short in a bid for its first 3A state title since 2001.