Tri-Valley nearly pulled off the comeback. But the Titans ran out of time Saturday, falling 50-42 to Carey in the 1A Division II state football championship at Middleton High.
Senior running back Teddy Ertel hauled in a 17-yard TD pass with 18 seconds left to cut the deficit to eight points. But No. 1-ranked Carey (12-0) recovered the ensuing onside kick to hang on for its sixth state title in program history.
Turnovers doomed No. 3 Tri-Valley (10-1), a co-op of the Cambridge and Midvale school districts. The Titans committed four turnovers with a fumble and three interceptions in a steady and driving wind.
“Turnovers hurt us, and they didn’t have any turnovers,” Tri-Valley coach Bob Johnson said. “That was probably the difference in the game when you think about one score.”
Carey took a 14-12 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter when Kaden Koudelka brooke loose for a 78-yard TD pass from Houston Hennefer. Tri-Valley could never erase that deficit as Carey forced timely turnovers and broke big play and after big play to rack up 535 yards of offense.
Hennefer completed 11 of 17 passes for 208 yards and three TDs. But junior running back Porter Mecham stole the show, running for 262 yards and two TDs in addition to hauling in four passes for 42 yards.
“He ran hard,” Johnson said. “He got a lot of extra yardage and first downs. He was tough to defend.”
Senior Chip Mitchell led the comeback as Tri-Valley’s Wildcat quarterback, running for 119 yards and a TD on 11 carries. He hauled in four passes for 74 yards and a second-quarter TD, and Ertel added 156 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
The loss caps a historic season for Tri-Valley, playing in its first state championship game since Cambridge’s and Midvale’s athletic programs formally merged in the 2005-06 school year. Cambridge last reached the state championship game in 1997, when several of the Titans’ fathers suited up for the Bulldogs.
“It’s been absolutely magical, no doubt,” Tri-Valley senior Collin Kindall said. “We came from the bottom and worked all the way up to the top.”
CAREY 50, TRI-VALLEY 42
TV — Teddy Ertel 7 run (pass failed), 6:54
CAR — Porter Mecham 70 run (Houston Hennefer run), 6:05
TV — Collin Kindall 1 run (pass failed), 4:25
CAR — Kaden Koudelka 78 pass from Houston Hennefer (pass failed), 3:02
CAR — Hilario Ruiz 6 run (Hennefer pass to Tanner Mecham), 6:19
CAR — Mecham 24 pass from Hennefer (Hennefer to Mecham pass), 4:23
TV — Chip Mitchell 37 pass from Jayden Mink (Ertel run), 0:25
CAR — Mecham 89 run (pass failed), 10:10
TV — Parker Cornwell 50 kick return (Ertel run), 10:03
CAR — Koudelka 8 pass from Hennefer (Hennefer to Koudelka pass), 9:50
TV — Chip Mitchell 48 run (Mitchell run), 8:27
CAR — Houston Hennefer 2 run (pass failed), 2:03
TV — Ertel 17 pass from Mink (run failed), 0:18
RUSHING — Carey: Houston Hennefer 11-24, D.J. Parke 1-1, Hilario Ruiz 8-25, Hayden Wayment 1-5, Carson Simpson 1-2, Porter Mecham 21-262. Tri-Valley: Jayden Mink 4-(-3), Chip Mitchell 11-119, Teddy Ertel 22-156, Collin Kindall 5-18.
PASSING — Carey: Hennefer 11-17-0 208. Tri-Valley: Mink 6-13-3 88; Mitchell 2-4-0 17.
RECEIVING — Carey: Kaden Koudelka 4-109, Tanner Mecham 3-57, P. Mecham 4-42. Tri-Valley: Mitchell 4-74, Nathan Kindall 1-12, Ertel 1-17, C. Kindall 2-2.