Cedar City • The Manti Templars knew the philosophy of their coach, Cole Meacham. It was all about enjoying the experience on the field.
Senior Jared Schiess pushed Manti one step away from the Class 3A state title Saturday.
Schiess scored on a 4-yard run, his third touchdown of the night, with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the game as the Templars held on for a thrilling 36-28 victory over the Morgan Trojans at Eccles Coliseum. Manti will play Judge Memorial for the championship at Stewart Stadium on the Weber State campus.
"When Morgan battled back on us, we got tight," Meacham said. "We had to play with the attitude of being loose and having fun."
The Templars added Kamren Fowles' touchdown runs from 1 and 7 yards in the third quarter to keep the lead.
"Put those two in the backfield, and we're pretty tough," Meacham said.
Schiess delivered touchdown runs from a yard out in the opening quarter and a 2-yarder early in the second as Manti took a 14-0 lead, but Morgan rallied back within 14-13 at the half. Quarterback Ben Saunders found Bridger Streadbeck on a 38-yard touchdown pass, and Kade Carrigan scored on a 2-yard run in the waning moments of the second.
Carrigan scored again on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter and added the 2-point conversion that tied the game at 28-28. But it was the appetizer that set up the thrilling finish.
Starting from its own 29 with 5:45 left, Manti rode the running of Fowles and Schiess to victory. Fowles had two key carries on the 71-yard drive, a 23-yard gain to the Trojan 18 and a 10-yard tear to the 4 to set up Schiess for the game-winner.
Tyler Albee ended Morgan's last chance at a tying touchdown with an interception to seal the victory.
The Templars will get a second crack at Judge, which won their regular-season meeting Oct. 16, a 49-20 decision.
3A semifinals Manti 36, Morgan 28
O The Templars will get a second chance at Judge, which defeated the Templars during the regular season.