Carbon running back Daulton Nelson (17) breaks away from Juab defenders for a touchdown. However a holding penalty on Carbon nullified the score.
As it has been through their last three games, it was another tale of two halves for the Carbon Dinos football team as the Juab Wasps pulled away in the second half to defeat the Dinos 31-21 on Friday night.
Carbon's players, very aware of the game's importance towards a possible playoff berth, came out strong on offense with a potent attack both on the ground and through the air.
That enthusiasm, sparked from the large crowd on homecoming night, helped propel Carbon in the first half.
On their first possession of the game, running back Daulton Nelson broke away from a pack of Wasp defenders on his way to a long touchdown run. The touchdown, however, was nullified due to a holding penalty. After pinning the Wasps deep in their own 10 yard line, the defensive line of the Dinos led by senior lineman Matt Cox pressured Juab quarterback Spencer McPhearson which resulted in a safety for Carbon and an early 2-0 lead.
The Dinos got the ball back and again wasted no time driving down the field. Quarterback Dakota Cisneros connected with Tanner Gagnon on a 45-yard touchdown pass which extended the lead to 9-0 just four minutes into the game.
Juab began to make their presence felt as they scored 13 unanswered points, on a 45-yard touchdown catch by Curtis Orme from McPhearson and a 12-yard half back pass from Kaden Nelson to Kyler Ockey to go up 13-9.
With two minutes left before halftime, Carbon drove down into Juab territory thanks to a little bit of trickery of their own as wide receiver Nick Haycock passed to wide receiver Garrett Hunt to get the ball inside the red zone. On third down, Juab was penalized for roughing the passer which gave the Dinos new life with under a minute to go in the half. Cisneros found Hunt on a short route and he pushed his way into the end zone to put Carbon back up 15-13 going into the half.
Carbon almost went down going into halftime as Juab returned the kickoff back for a touchdown, but the play was called back on a holding call.
As has been the case over their last three games, the second half proved to be the difference maker. Juab wasted no opportunities as they scored on their first possession of the second half to go up 21-15. From that point Carbon's bad luck continued as they fumbled on their ensuing possession which set up a field goal for Juab to extend the lead to 24-15 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Carbon failed to convert on a fake punt which gave the Wasps the ball back in Carbon territory. Juab again marched down the field against the Carbon defense and scored on a short run to push the lead to 31-15.
The Dinos, down by two possessions, showed some life as they scored on another bit of trickery with a pitch and catch as Haycock caught a pass and pitched to a nearby Gagnon for a 73-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 31-21. Trying to make it a one possession game, Carbon went for two but were unable to convert as Juab stopped Cisneros short of the goal line.
Juab appeared to not run out the clock towards the end, leaving the smallest of hopes still alive for the Dinos. Cox, who helped get a safety earlier in the game, intercepted a pass with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter.
The Carbon offense managed a drive down the field, including a fourth down conversion on a catch by wide receiver Colton England to get into Juab territory. Unfortunately Carbon was unable to convert their final shot at a score as the Wasps sacked Cisneros to seal the 31-21 victory for the visitors.
The loss eliminated the Dinos from making the 3A class playoffs as they fell to 4-4 overall and 0-4 in Region 12 play.
While the prospect of making the playoffs is no longer a possibility, the Dinos still have a chance to finish over .500 for the first time since the 2000 season when the team faces Spanish Fork in the last game of the season. In 2000 the Dinos finished 9-3 making it to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
It will also be the last home game for 17 seniors on the squad, who want nothing more than to go out on a high note after a string of tough losses. Game time is 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.