The throng already was piling into a nucleus of bodies near midfield, a joyous cacophony rising from its center. Landen Broadhead still was standing in the end zone, looking on silently as his teammates began the celebration.
The Desert Hills senior running back just had shoved and fought and stretched his way into the end zone from 2 yards out as the clock expired. Pine View defenders lay strewn on the field around him, still in disbelief.
Broadhead remained calm in the pandemonium. His voice barely rose, despite the significance of the moment his next words unveiled.
"We just won the state championship," he said, taking off his helmet.
Broadhead's last-second touchdown run broke a fourth-quarter tie and gave the Thunder a 27-21 win over Pine View in the Class 3AA state title game Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
It took a comeback from Desert Hills to do it. After the Thunder jumped ahead 14-0 early, the Panthers struck back, led by slinging quarterback Kody Wilstead. A 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter from Pano Tiatia gave the Panthers a 21-14 lead.
The Thunder then started feeding tailback Bridger Cowdin, who finished with 86 yards on 15 carries. They tied the game with six minutes left with a 61-yard touchdown drive.
After Jordan Hokanson intercepted Wilstead near midfield on the ensuing drive the defense's fourth pick of Wilstead, who finished with 332 yards and a touchdown the Thunder had 48 yards to drive with three minutes on the clock for a state title.
Cowdin's and quarterback Nick Warmsley's pounding running game brought the Thunder to the brink of it. Desert Hills coach Carl Franke faced a decision with 6 seconds left on the 2-yard line.
"I was contemplating kicking a field goal there," he said. "You just never know, and I said, 'Heck with it. We got this far. Let's do it.'"
Pine View's defense was beginning to key in on Cowdin, so Franke put the ball and the season in Broadhead's hands. Broadhead snuck in, under the pile of defenders. The official sprinted in from the left sideline before raising his arms in unison.
"You know what, there's no feeling," Broadhead said about his emotions before the play. "It's just do my assignment. ... I'm pretty calm, cool and collected."
If Broadhead truly was cool and collected and outwardly, he was he likely was the only one in Thunder white and gold of whom that could be said. Fans streamed onto the field, greeting the mass of players at midfield. Hugs were exchanged and cheers were bellowed. Tears of joy fell to the turf.
"We believed in ourselves and we believed in what the coaches had taught us all week," Broadhead said. "We put that into work, and it showed off right here."
O Landen Broadhead scores on a 2-yard touchdown run as time expires to propel Desert Hills over Pine View in the 3AA state championship game Friday night.