Emery running back Kasey Morris crashes through the defenders.
Although the final score of the Emery-Millard football game was not in Emery's favor at 36-27, the team left Fillmore knowing that they could compete against the topnotch foes in 2-A football. Emery fell behind 22-0 after the first quarter as they continued their bad habit of starting games slowly but the Spartans kicked it into gear and knocked Millard around the field.
Emery, despite that disastrous first quarter, outgained the Eagles 343 yards to 218 yards in the football game. Millard, a team that had allowed only one touchdown in three prior region games, allowed Emery into the end zone four times. Emery had opportunities to win this game but mistakes ultimately did the Spartans in.
Millard scored a touchdown in their first three offensive series of the night plus returned an interception for a touchdown early in the game as Emery found themselves down big right off the bat and it appeared no end was in sight.
But then the Spartans found themselves. Millard was limited to 70 yards in the ball game after those first three series.
The Spartans first offensive series ended on the first play as the Eagles picked off a pass and scored. Emery's next series ended with a punt after three plays as Emery could only gain eight yards in those three plays. That was Emery's only punt of the night as it turned out.
Emery started their next offensive series at their own 17-yard line. Cory Cox gained five yards up the middle, Jesse Winn gained 10 yards around the right side and Dominic Rondinelli gained three yards going left. Winn gained six, Cox gained three and then Cox gained another 12 yards to the Millard 44-yard line. Spencer Labrum then connected with a pass to David Dyer for 28 yards to the Millard 16-yard line. Winn ran for 14 yards and Emery had first and goal at the 2-yard line. Winn scored on a pass from Labrum and Emery had finally scored. More importantly, the offense began believing that they could play with this team.
Millard lost in the 2-A semifinals last year and the Eagles returned 10 of 11 starters on their offense. They are ranked high because they are a pretty good football team and now Emery knew that they could score against them.
After Emery scored on this 83-yard drive, the Spartans then scored on their next two first-half drives also. The next drive started at the Emery 22-yard line and culminated in a 2-yard run by Winn for another touchdown. Emery then went 51 yards in the final minute of the first half to score again. Winn had his third touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run.
In the drive that went 78 yards, Winn had the big gain as he picked up 38 yards on one run. Labrum completed a pass to Zac Bury for 14 yards plus Winn totaled 45 yards on the ground, Cox picked up 12 yards and Rondinelli picked up seven yards for Emery.
In the other drive, Winn threw a half back pass to Jake Bell that went for 40 yards for the big play in the drive. Labrum to Winn was good for six yards and Winn ran the ball twice before scoring. Emery trailed at the half 29-21 after being down 22-0.
Emery received the second half kick-off with the ball sailing into the end zone for a touchback and Emery started at their own 20-yard line. After gaining 10 yards, Emery threw another interception and Millard had the ball at the Spartan 25-yard line. It took the Eagles nine plays but they finally scored again. Interceptions by the Eagles turned out to be a key part of the game.
Emery responded by marching eight yards on their next drive to score again, this time on a two yard run by Cox. After a no gain run, Cox ran for six yards and an offside penalty against Millard gave Emery a first down.
A 15-yard run by Winn, four yards by Cox, two yards by Winn followed by eight yards by Winn gave Emery a first down in Millard territory. Another eight yards by Cox, an incomplete pass, a five yard run by Rondinelli, a seven yard run by Cox, a three yard pick up to Winn, four yards to Rondinelli, another run by Cox, two more by Winn and finally Cox scores.
Emery then had two series stall in Millard territory and the Spartans loss a heartbreaker. Bailey Faimalo had an interception in the game and Geren Payne led the Spartan defense with nine tackles. Cory Cox had six tackles along with Brett Sorensen and Jake Bell.
Emery will now host Gunnison this Friday night in their homecoming game at 7 p.m.