It wasn't a pretty win, but when it comes to advancing in the 3A state playoffs, the Lehi Pioneers will take it - ugly or not.
Quarterback Braden Cooper completed 15 of 24 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns - and ran for another - as the No. 1-ranked Pioneers held off Bear River 24-20 Friday night."We came out flat and struggled in the first half offensively and defensively," Lehi coach Chad Wilson said.
With the victory, the Pioneers move to 10-0 and face the winner of the Delta/Dixie contest next week in quarterfinal action, and according to Wilson it will take a better effort to come out with a victory.
"Our concern is to get ready to play," he said of next week's preparations. "Obviously, we weren't ready to play tonight."
The Bears didn't look like a team with just two wins on their opening drive. Running back Donald Hawes capped an eight-play, 72-yard opening drive with a 17-yard run to give the Bears the early 6-0 lead.
Bear River held the lead until just into the second quarter, when Cooper hit Trent Colledge with a 32-yard touchdown strike. Jake Hunt added the PAT to give the Pioneers the lead for good.
The two clubs traded touchdowns in the second half, Lehi scoring first on a 38-yard pass from Cooper to Chris Best.
Bear River countered with a Matt Probst 14-yard run to cut the lead to 17-14 midway through the third quarter.
Cooper added a 1-yard run late in the third period, before Sklyer Stephens hit Brad Wardle from 32 yards out to trim the lead to 24-20.
A potential game-winning drive for Bear River stalled with five minutes to go, then Cooper took matters in his own hands, making sure the Bears didn't get the ball back by converting key first downs.
"He's a great athlete and outstanding football player," Wilson said of his four-year starter, Cooper. "He's a great person to have the ball in his hands. Usually good things happen."
Trevor Varney led the Pioneers with 104 yards on 20 carries.
In other games Friday:
Bingham 35, Layton 6: Chris Daniels sloshed his way through the mud for 122 yards and two first-half touchdowns to lead the Miners. He also caught a two-point conversion pass from Paul Peterson. The Lancers' only score came on Mike Bird's 93-yard run in the first quarter.
Granger 42, Jordan 20: After trading a pair of touchdowns with the Beetdiggers in the first quarter, the Lancers ran away with the game by scoring 35 straight points. Junior running back Fahu Tahi rumbled for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries for Granger. Saia Vaivaka had two rushing TDs for Jordan.
Hunter 28, Cottonwood 15: The fourth-ranked Wolverines avenged their only loss of the year as Joe Lomu and David Fiefia ran roughshod over the Colts. Fiefia scored three touchdowns - of 40, 15 and 17 yards - and gained 145 yards. Lomu ended with 190 yards and one TD rushing on 20 carries.
Box Elder 27, Spanish Fork 13: The Bees used a balanced scoring attack - four different players scored touchdowns - to sting the fifth-ranked Dons. Dallas Harper returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to tie the game in the first quarter, and Box Elder scored 20 consecutive points after that.
West 23, Weber 14: The Warriors led 14-7 at the half, but the Panthers scored 16 in the third quarter including Rodregis Smith's 76-yard touchdown run. Smith finished with 136 yards rushing. West quarterback Jacob Wolfgramm threw for two touchdowns and ran in a two-point conversion.
Highland 63, Fremont 12: Playing only three days after their half-game tiebreaker against Mountain Crest, the Silver Wolves were Ramsacked by top-ranked Highland.
Bonneville 41, Cyprus 13: The Region 1 champion Lakers capsized the Pirates to advance to the quarterfinals where they'll face the winner of today's East/Springville game.
Snow Canyon 23, North Sanpete 9: Mike Esplin carried the ball nine times for 111 yards and two touchdowns to boost the defending 3A champion Warriors. John Hafen chipped in with 76 yards rushing for No. 5 Snow Canyon.
Grantsville 41, Altamont 6: Alan Mouritsen did a bit of everything to help the fourth-ranked Cowboys advance. Mouritsen rushed for three touchdowns and scored another time on a 15-yard pass from Ryan Dana. Mouritsen also had a two-point reception after Joel Butler's 52-yard TD catch.
Juab 52, Parowan 22: The top-ranked Wasps burst out of the gates to take a 33-0 lead after the first quarter. Brett Lovell had three interceptions - upping his season total to 13 picks - and caught three passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Juab quarterback Josh Park rushed for two TDs and threw for three more. Casey Reynolds added scoring runs of 53 and 29 yards.
Millard 54, Monticello 12: The second-ranked Eagles racked up 610 total yards of offense in the rout. Leading the way was Adam Turner who rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Jake Stephenson added 156 yards receiving with two TDs.
San Juan 50, Milford 0: Clayton Moss picked off a pair of passes and the third-ranked Broncos had a balanced offensive performance in the big win. San Juan led 41-0 at the half.