High school football: Lehi embodied ‘Friday Night Lights’ in 2022

Jackson Brousseau didn’t see the catch that won him his second-straight state championship.

He took a shot from a defender as he threw, and as he lay on the ground, he heard the Lehi fans erupt into pandemonium.

After the game, the senior quarterback and Colorado State commit stood before a throng of reporters with a cut on his chin and a beaming smile on his face. It was one of several times that he and the Pioneers had been in this position this year.

On Friday afternoon, Brousseau and the Lehi Pioneers pulled off their fourth come-from-behind win of the 2022 season, securing the 5A state championship with a walk-off 25-yard touchdown pass from Brousseau to senior receiver Kolton Tanner to win it in a thrilling and unforgettable triple-overtime game against Timpview, 29-23.

Six floors above the field in the press box, jokes about the fictional Dillon Panthers from the TV show “Friday Night Lights” floated around the room, referencing that team’s penchant for super-climactic finishes.

And that’s what the Pioneers showed in their first-ever undefeated season in school history. They were the epitome of “Friday Night Lights.”

“That’s how our team is,” Brousseau said. “We always go down and come back, come back, come back … I knew our team would never give up, they would just keep coming back. It was just a matter of time before the ball swung our way.”

For as many times as the Pioneers dominated opponents (seven shutouts in a 14-0 season), other games they won were as climactic as an Emmy-winning TV show.

In Week 5, they were down, 24-0, to 6A Corner Canyon. They then scored the final 25 points of the game and won with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Brousseau to Jace John.

In Week 9, they were down, 24-21, to these same Timpview Thunderbirds with four minutes left in the game. In what turned out to be a massive foreshadowing, Brousseau found Tanner for 15 yards and the go-ahead score with less than two minutes remaining.

In the 5A quarterfinals, Box Elder had the Pioneers up against a wall with a 21-14 lead and exactly six minutes to go. Instead of Brousseau, senior running back Carson Gonzalez punched in two touchdowns in just a minute and a half to advance to the semis.

And in the championship, in a third OT period, nearly an hour after the regulation had ended, after Lehi had already escaped almost certain doom when both teams went scoreless in the prior period, Brousseau delivered a killshot to end the game.

“This city, this town, they’ve always helped me out,” Brousseau said, “so I just had to make my throw and do my job.”

After this season, Lehi coach Ed Larson might have to change his name to Eric Taylor.

“It was quintessential football,” Larson said. “My gosh, it was back and forth, defenses making stands, offenses making plays … It’s gutted out. Don’t look at the scoreboard, play every down as hard as you can, and let the chips fall where they may.”

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