Utah senior PK sets state record, wins state title with his final, 54-yard field goal

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
Manti kicker Carlo Garcia connects on a state record, state title-winning 54-yard field goal — Deseret News
Manti kicker Carlo Garcia connects on a state record, state title-winning 54-yard field goal — Deseret News

If timing is half the battle, then Manti (Utah) High senior place-kicker Carlo Garcia is more than halfway there. Not only does he have a knack for delivering in the biggest situations, he also has the talent to come through when no one could reasonably expect him to. He proved as much in the biggest game of the season, connecting on a state-record 54-yard field goal to hand Manti a 16-13, overtime Class 2A state title game victory against San Juan (Utah) High.

The state title was the second straight for Manti, culminating with Garcia getting a ride off the field on his teammates' shoulders, all while trying to come to grips with what he had just accomplished.

"This is the best feeling in the world," Garcia told the Deseret News. "It means a lot -- not only to me, but to my school and my team -- we're like a family."

It's hard to overstate Garcia's accomplishment. There is no pressure like the stress that faces a place-kicker lining up for a game-winning kick. Time and time again across history kickers that routinely connect on efforts from similar distances have come up short -- or wide right or left -- with an entire contest or even a season on the line. It's one of the unique aspects of American football that a player whose role is rather limited overall can have the single largest impact on a key game.

Still, those misses are much more understandable when they come from serious distances that extend a kicker's potential. Personal long attempts are more of a hope and a prayer than an expectation.

Add to those challenges the fact that no one in state history had ever hit a 54-yarder before and the fact that the entire season was quite literally resting on Garcia's leg and it would be hard to find fault with the senior missing the kick.

Instead, he deserves all the credit in the world for coming through, even if his teammates were always confident that he would.

"There was no doubt," said Manti senior Jamen Miller about his emotions just prior to the kick. ".…He makes them all the time in practice — he's money. I thought it wouldn't (come down to Garcia's kick), but it makes it more fun."

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