3A football: Judge tops Manti for first state title since '83 (with video)
Ogden • James Cordova was on the sidelines 30 years ago, a happy 14-year-old watching his older brother lead the Judge Memorial Bulldogs to glory.
On a blustery, snow-filled Saturday morning, James Cordova again was on the sidelines, this time as the coach of his alma mater, leading his Bulldogs into a four-quarter blizzard against the Manti Templars.
And like that moment in 1983, Cordova and the Bulldogs ended up painting the field red. Judge snapped the 30-year drought with its 36-22 win over Manti at Stewart Stadium on the campus of Weber State University.
"It's the dream of everybody to win a state championship, and only one team every season gets to go home happy," Cordova said, the 3A trophy in hand. "I'm glad it's us."
Once quarterback Kaden Elliss picked up a fourth-and-6 down with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining, the roars on the west side of the stadium grew louder and louder. Minutes later, once the clock hit zero, fans of all ages, those currently in the Judge student body, parents and alumni, rushed the field.
"I haven't had a feeling like this before," said Elliss, who finished with 109 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Not many associated with the program since 1983 have.
Which is what led the offensive line and fullbacks Henry Garcia and Max Barnett to take control of the game in the fourth quarter. Trailing 22-20 entering the final 12 minutes, the Bulldogs took the lead on a 3-yard option toss to Michael Kearns.
The Bulldogs pinned the Templars deep in Manti territory six minutes later. Facing a long third down, the Templars attempted a halfback pass, but defensive back Mark Barnett got under the fluttering pass intended for Manti quarterback Connor Aste.
Garcia rumbled in from 2-yards out on the next play to give Judge a two-possession lead. Elliss' ensuing 2-point conversion attempt was a desperate heave across the field toward receiver Braden Pelly, who somehow came up with the ball.
From there, the Bulldog defense put the handcuffs on a Manti offense struggling to find any consistency after star running back Kamren Fowles left the game with a concussion.
"Our boys played their hearts out," Cordova said. "I don't know how to quantify what this feels like it's an amazing feeling."
The Judge offense took it from there, chipping away with Elliss, Garcia and Max Barnett and a motivated offensive line.
Moments after a delay of game penalty before the final kneel-down, the Bulldogs were at the center of the field in Ogden hollering.
It had been 30 years since Judge could celebrate in season-ending style.
"Thirty years is a long time," Garcia said. "There's been plenty of teams that have gotten here that haven't been able to cap it like we have."
O Kaden Elliss rushes for 109 yards on 19 carries to help the Bulldogs win their first state championship since 1983.
• Judge trailed Manti, 22-20, entering the fourth quarter.
Judge Memorial 36, Manti 22
South Summitt 42, Grand County 8
Duchesne 14, Rich 13
Friday, Nov. 22
• East vs. Timpview at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 11 a.m., KJZZ
• Brighton vs. Bingham at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 2:30 p.m., KJZZ
• Pine View vs. Desert Hills at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 6:30 p.m., KJZZ
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