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Braves hang on for victory

Pirates score 20 unanswered points but come up short

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MAGNA — Bountiful coach Larry Wall got a glimpse of the future Friday night.

Every game from here on out will resemble the Braves' 21-20 Region 5 victory over Cyprus — hard-fought and down to the wire.

"We're in a tough region and every game from here on out is going to be just like this — a dogfight," Wall said.

This time last year the Braves were looking up from the bottom of the Region 5 pile. Now the Braves are on top and enjoying the view.

"We're 2-0 and that's our goal right now," Wall said. "That's right where we want to be."

The Braves host Highland and travel to Woods Cross during the next two weeks. Woods Cross is 2-0 in league play after picking up its second consecutive victory, a 39-10 decision over West. Highland is 1-1 after losing to Olympus. The Braves travel to Olympus the second-to-last week of the season.

Bountiful scored the first 21 points of the game and then dug in. And it wasn't until John Ika snuck through the line and blocked the Pirates' extra-point attempt with just under four minutes to go that the game was in hand.

"He came right up the middle and blocked it," Wall said. "It was a great individual effort."

The Braves ran only 23 offensive plays in the second half. The first four led to a Tui Auva'a three-yard touchdown run to lift the Braves to a 21-0 lead, but the rest of game they couldn't generate anything until their last possession when they ran nine plays and converted two third-down plays to ice the game.

"We didn't want to give them the ball back," Wall said. "We went toe-to-toe with them and that's when you need your offense to come in and be able to make first downs when you need it."

In the meantime the Pirates began to awake offensively.

Following Auva'a's touchdown that was set up by a Jeff Browning interception, the Pirates scored their first touchdown on a six-yard run by Jeff Crosby with just under four minutes left in the third quarter to trim the lead to 21-6.

Fifteen seconds later, Cyprus linebacker Sean Matagi scooped up a fumble and rambled 17 yards for the Pirates' second score. He then caught the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 21-14.

After forcing the Braves to punt, the Pirates went on a four-minute drive that took them to the Bountiful five-yard line before losing the ball on downs when a potential touchdown sailed just over the hands of the receiver.

The Pirates forced another Bountiful punt and scored with 3:57 left when Kyle Huntsman, who threw for 149 yards in the second half, hit Nathan Cash to pull the Pirates to within a point before Ika's heroics.

"We played pretty much the way we wanted to both defensively and offensively. We made some big plays on 'O' and made some big plays on 'D'," Wall said of his team's first-half play. "I take my hat off to Cyprus. They came back in the second half."

Auva'a rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown for the Braves and John Alexander grounded out 68 yards. Huntsman finished with 179 yards passing.