PLEASANT GROVE — Playing the toughest preseason high school football schedule in the state is finally going to pay off for the Lone Peak football team.
After suffering losses to 5A powers Hunter and Northridge and 4A's Timpview and Bountiful, Lone Peak opened Region 7 play with a convincing 28-0 win over Pleasant Grove on Friday.
"When you're losing, we just kept telling the kids to have faith in what they are doing," Lone Peak coach Monte Morgan said. "We reminded the kids that every ball game but the Hunter game we contributed to our own demise. We've just kept working to get better and on the fundamentals."
The one area of the game where Lone Peak was fundamentally sound was on defense. Pleasant Grove turned the ball over five times and managed only 170 yards of total offense. In the first half, Pleasant Grove had only 56 yards of offense.
Viking quarterback Russ Patten was picked off three times in the first half. Two of the picks resulted in Lone Peak touchdowns.
"PG is a real good team," Morgan said. "They are real explosive, and I thought we did a real good job of taking away their weapons."
With less than three minutes to play in the first half, Lone Peak was clinging to a 7-0 lead. But Jess Walker picked off Patten on a third-and-9 that set up Lone Peak's second score. After a pass-interference call on Pleasant Grove, Lone Peak's Brian Bowen then bailed quarterback Michael Jensen out when he made a one-handed grab in the end zone with 58 seconds left in the second quarter.
Lone Peak took a 21-0 lead when defensive back Jason Long picked off Patten with 35 seconds left in the half. Long returned the ball 30 yards to the PG 25-yard line to set up the touchdown. After a Lone Peak penalty, Jensen found an open Sean Stephan in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown.
"We try and take advantage of our opportunities, and that is what we did," Morgan said. "Any time you can go into the half like that is a big momentum."
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The Knights took a 28-0 lead when Aryah Fard scored his second touchdown of the game on a 6-yard run with 8:06 left in the game. Fard's first touchdown came with 9:29 left in the second quarter when he caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jensen.
Pleasant Grove threatened to score in the final two minutes of the game when the starters from the Lone Peak defense were on the bench. But when the Viking offense moved inside the Lone Peak 30-yard line, the Knight coaching staff reinserted their starters to preserve the shutout.
The shutout remained intact after the Lone Peak defense recovered a Pleasant Grove fumble in the end zone.
"I thought the kids played pretty hungry," Morgan said.