Bountiful 17, Bonneville 16BOUNTIFUL -- All afternoon, Bonneville High's Misi Tupe was having his way with the Bountiful Braves' defense, pounding up the middle or slashing off tackle for big gains. But when the Braves needed to stop Tupe the most, they did.

Consequently, Bountiful earned a 17-16 state quarterfinal victory over the Lakers Friday afternoon, and now must be considered the clear-cut favorite for a 4A state championship that could be just two games away.

The battle between the 10-0 Braves and 9-1 Lakers was all it was expected to be -- tough, hard-hitting and close -- very close. It took the defensive efforts of Casey Gubler and Evan Roberts, who combined to stop Tupe at the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt, to keep Bonneville from moving on in the tournament. Bountiful will now face the winner of Friday's Cyprus-Provo winner next week in a state semifinal.

"Our defense came up huge again today," Braves coach Larry Wall said. "I couldn't be prouder of how they hung together. We bent a lot, but we didn't break."

Bountiful came out fired up, with K.C. Nordfors returning the opening kickoff

90 yards for a score. A clipping penalty near midfield negated the touchdown, but the Braves marched 57 yards in seven plays to score anyway. The key to that drive was a 20-yard pass from Seth Patterson to Cameron Jensen. Matt Ramos carried in from the five just three minutes into the game, but Todd Clark's kick sailed wide right and it was 6-0 for the Braves.

Bonneville came right back with an impressive 50-yard drive that stalled at the Bountiful 24. The Braves marched 76 yards back, aided by a personal foul on Bonneville. Clark nailed a 37-yard field goal with 2:19 left in the quarter and Bountiful led 9-0 and seemed in total control.

The Braves drove deep into Laker territory again in the second quarter, but Bonneville held and took over at its 20 following a missed field goal into a stiff south wind. On first down, Chase Heywood rambled 75 yards to the Bountiful five, and from there Tupe scored with 7:36 in the half. David Vincent's PAT made it 9-7, which is how the first half ended.

The Lakers took their only lead at 10-9 when their opening drive of the second half led to a 32-yard field goal from Vincent. The lead was short-lived, as the Braves responded with a 72-yard drive. Facing third-and-long from their own 46, Patterson hit Gubler with a nifty pass up the middle, and he outran the Lakers for the 54-yard TD. Clark faked the point-after, with holder Erik Soderberg scampering around right end for two points. Bountiful led 17-10 midway through the quarter.

Bonneville scored its second TD following a 58-yard drive, most of it by Tupe. He pushed in from the three with 4:43 remaining in the game, but Vincent's PAT was wide right. On the kick, however, the Braves were called for roughing Vincent, giving the Lakers the ball at about the one-and-a-half yard line. Coach Tom Budge decided to go for two. Tupe was stopped inches from the goal line.

Bonneville had the wind at its back and one more chance after forcing a Bountiful punt in the final two minutes, but Patterson intercepted a pass at the Braves' 32, and Bountiful ran out the clock.

Heywood and Tupe combined for 275 yards rushing for the Lakers, but Bonneville gained only 50 yards passing, none of it in the second half. Ramos led Bountiful with 81 yards rushing on 11 carries, and Jensen picked up 73 on 15 carries. Bonneville amassed 333 yards total offense to 278 for the Braves.

"We have all the respect in the world for Bonneville," Wall said. "We knew they are one of the top teams in the state."

And so are the Braves, who finished a perfect 13-0 in 1990 when they won their first of two consecutive state championships, and might be destined to take another in 1999.