I went to the Top of the Mountains Bowl last Saturday to watch Snow College play Butler in the Junior College football National Championship game. I have no personal link to Snow, other than them being in Utah, but it was a beautiful day to watch a championship game. Plus I got to check out the new Rio Tinto soccer stadium for the first time.
The game itself was really good. Snow struggled on offense for much of the game, as they could not seem to protect the quarterback and insisted on running a 5'9" 175lb guy at a stacked defensive line. But the game completely changed once the 4th quarter began. Snow forced a fumble on the 30 yard line or so, and threw for a touchdown. Butler's ensuing drive ended with a 3 and out, and Snow returned the punt deep into Butler territory. The good field position resulted in another quick touchdown and a tie game. Butler got the ball back with about 2 minutes left and had a pretty good drive going, which had all the Snow players' parents in the stands worried (that was actually one of the more entertaining aspects of the game - the mother of one of the players sat right behind us. She was a hoot). But that drive ended and Snow got the ball back with a little bit of time, making it seem like Snow was destined for a fantastic finish at Butler's expense. A long pass got them into Butler territory, about one good play away from field goal range, but the referees started the game clock up really quickly after the first down and no one on Snow's team realized it until only a few seconds were left. So they called a timeout and were forced to go for a touchdown. They pulled a Boise St. and tried the hook and ladder, but were unable to get into the endzone. So the game went into overtime.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime. In the second overtime, Butler got the ball first and Snow's defense held. After already having blocked an extra point and a punt, I think everyone in the stadium could sense another block coming, and that's exactly what happened. It was pandemonium in the stands. Until, that is, Butler's players starting jumping around and the referees signaled a touchdown. Apparently, after the kick was blocked, the ball was touched by a Snow player, rolled into the end zone, and was recovered by a Butler player - resulting in a most improbable and gut wrenching touchdown. Even worse, on Snow's very next play, the receiver bobbled a pass and had it intercepted to end the game. Two quick plays, one right after the other, and the game was over. The nature of the ending, particularly after a fourth quarter that had the momentum entirely in Snow's favor, had everyone in shock.
All in all, it was a great game, and a fun way to spend an afternoon. I got to see two good teams play for a championship in a brand new stadium, and I even got to chat about Boise St football with a stadium usher (I was wearing a BSU hat and he came over to shake my hand because of it).
One final note however. Immediately after the interception that ended the game, there were a handful of Butler players that rather than celebrate with their teammates, chose to sprint all the way across the field and point and taunt the Snow sideline. One player even did a backflip. It was truly classless. On the bright side, the U now knows where to look for its future stars...