Logan quarterback Chase Nelson became one of the biggest stories in Utah high school football this season, posting huge numbers with his remarkable ability to run and pass.
And then Nelson almost ruined everything with his untimely kick.
His teammates responded to Nelson's second-quarter ejection Friday by maintaining their lead, piecing together a 22-17 victory over Bountiful with a fill-in quarterback and a phenomenal defensive effort in a Class 4A first-round playoff game.
Mike Favero, Logan's longtime coach, labeled the performance "one of the greatest wins in the history of our program ... under the most unthinkable circumstances I've ever been a part of."
The Grizzlies may have to repeat it next week. Logan will host Olympus in the quarterfinals, and only a successful appeal to the Utah High School Activities Association would enable Nelson to play. An ejection typically comes with a one-game suspension, but Logan will make a case that the incident was rather mild.
Skipping to the end of Friday's story, Logan beat Bountiful because Austin In's interception led to quarterback Kinkade Wildman's touchdown run for a 22-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and Taylor Compton's interception stopped the Braves' last drive.
The Grizzlies came through as Nelson watched from the sideline, hopefully and helplessly.
"That's one of the worst feelings in the world," he said, "but I kind of had an intuition the whole time that we were going to pull it out somehow. It was just incredible to watch my guys do that. I couldn't believe my eyes."
As for the ejection, Nelson said only, "The ref made the call."
Thanks to the Grizzlies' defensive effort, the only real drama in this game came after Nelson's two touchdown runs. During Logan's 10-0 regular season, Nelson accounted for 48 touchdowns via passing and running. His two playoff scores were costly, with a 15-yard penalty assessed after each of them. The second flag for kicking a defender who was wrapped around him in the end zone brought his ejection.
What followed was a series of emotional displays involving the quarterback's brother, Logan offensive coordinator Riley Nelson. Chase Nelson went to the bench, where his brother kindly patted his head and draped a coat over him. Moments later, however, after receiving an explanation from the referee, Riley Nelson came back to the sideline and spoke loudly to his brother, waving his arms.
After watching the videotape of the incident at halftime, the coaches were supportive of Chase Nelson, with Favero endorsing his character and describing the kick as "very, very meager" and a natural reaction.
As the referees ran off the field after the game, Riley Nelson chased them in an effort to have another discussion, but he was restrained.
Yeah, just another routine first-round playoff game, in other words. The Grizzlies led 13-7 after the ejection and played Bountiful evenly after that, except for missing an extra point.
After trying a conventional backup quarterback, Favero turned to Wildman, a starting safety who had played QB on the sophomore team last year but hardly practices at that position anymore. Wildman's 52-yard pass to Chad Artist led to a field goal to make it 16-10, then Wildman ran 3 yards for a touchdown after In intercepted a pass deflected by teammate Caden Anderson.
The Braves cut the lead to 22-17 with 3:37 remaining after Tanner Redding's second touchdown reception from Trevor Lloyd. But a great punt by Logan's Chandler Lowery made the Braves start their last drive at the 6-yard line. Bountiful reached midfield before Compton's interception ensured the Grizzlies of remaining unbeaten and playing for another week, with their quarterbacking situation to be determined.