Midway through the third quarter, North Summit owned a 19-14 lead and was staring into the Gunnison end zone from the Bulldog 2-yard line. However, despite moving the ball thoroughly against a sizable Gunnison defense, the Braves couldn't punch it in and turned the ball over on downs.

In the end, not capitalizing on that prime field position came back to sting the Braves.

Gunnison quarterback Colby Caldwell found Lafe Christensen for a 16-yard touchdown reception with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter, giving the Bulldogs a 20-19 victory.

"That was a momentum-shifter when we didn't score," said North Summit head coach Devin Smith. "That's one that is going to ache for a while.

"I was really proud of our kids. They played their hearts out. For them to come back, (after) being beat by their rival, to play that hard, it says a lot about their character. I was proud of the way they played. They deserved to win. That was probably the most heartbreaking part to me, to see that they deserved to win."

The loss dropped the Braves to 2-6 overall this season and 2-4 in the 2A North.

North Summit jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to a 7-yard touchdown run by Cameron Smith. After Gunnison scored twice to take a 14-7 lead, the Braves responded with a 20-yard touchdown run by Brandon Thiriot and a 53-yard run by Ben Stephens. But in the second half, the Braves couldn't make the Bulldogs pay on the scoreboard despite dominating much of the clock.


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"We had the ball with about four minutes to go and we had a good drive going; we were killing the clock and I know it's part of the game, but we had a holding call and the referees hadn't called a holding call the whole game, but it killed the drive," Smith said. "Those ones are kind of hard to swallow."

North Summit must erase that memory quickly as the Emery Spartans come to Coalville Friday night. The Spartans, who are 3-3 in region play, could drop into a three-way tie for fourth place in the 2A North along with Gunnison if the Braves can win.

Smith said the season is far from over and that his team is fired up to make sure it has another shot at a home game in the playoffs.

"The seniors know that this could be their last time playing ever on our field. That means a lot to them," he said. "At least the vibe I'm getting from our kids already, even though we haven't won as many games as we'd like to, is they still want to play. It's easy to quit when the season hasn't gone -- as far as wins and losses -- the way you wanted to, but it tells a lot about our kids that they're still eager to play."

The regular-season finale should produce some drama and Smith said his message to his players before they trot out onto the field will be to play like it's their last game.

"I'll tell them to be able to look themselves in the mirror with no regrets," he said, "that no matter what, that they left it all out there. I know they will."