OREM — It doesn't matter how many scoring chances you waste if you still come out on top in the end.
The Mountain View Bruins proved that in their come-from-behind 23-16 playoff-clinching win Friday night over the Timpanogos Timberwolves. The Bruins easily could have scored a couple of more touchdowns, but they still survived thanks to a 25-yard scoring strike from Don Lovelace to Steve Loveland with 1:03 remaining in the game.
The victory gives the Bruins a 2-1 league mark and assures them of at least third place in Region 7. They can grab a share of the league title with a win next week over Orem.
"This is by far the biggest win I've had," said second-year coach Doug Meek. "This puts us in the playoffs for sure, and we haven't done that for a few years here."
Despite wasting several good opportunities in the early going, Mountain View led 9-3 at halftime thanks to a 31-yard field goal from Brandon Black and a 40-yard touchdown pass from Lovelace to Evan Astle. The T-Wolves' first-half score came from a 23-yard field goal from Cory Bowler.
The Bruins were positioned to add to their lead early in the second half when Black set up for another short field-goal try. This time, however, the T-Wolves blocked the kick and took over possession at their own 40-yard line. Behind the running of Jerrit Lui, Tyson Gonzales and Alex Lyons, they marched down to the Bruins' 6-yard line in seven plays. Quarterback Nate Fullmer rolled in from there to put Timpanogos up 10-9.
Mountain View took a 15-10 lead early in the fourth quarter when Lovelace finished off a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a one-yard plunge. The drive, keyed by 20-yard completion to Astle on a third-and-10 and an offsides on a fourth-and-one, ate up more than seven minutes of clock.
But the T-Wolves responded quickly. Lyons returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to Mountain View's 35. From there the T-Wolves used their power running to push down to the 3-yard line. Fullmer tried to score again on a keeper, but this time he fumbled just outside the goal line. Fortunately for the T-Wolves, they recovered the loose ball in the end zone to go back ahead 16-15.
Timpanogos held Mountain View on its next possession, but Bruins punter Brian Smith delivered a key play in the game when he booted a 65-yarder than pinned Timpanogos on the 8-yard line. With under three minutes remaining, a Timpanogos first down would have ended the game. But the Bruins held the T-Wolves for a short gain on three straight runs and forced them to punt.
A short kick gave Mountain View the ball at the Timpanogos 35-yard line with 1:21 remaining. Lovelace hit Jimmy Little for 10 yards on the first play. On the next play, from the 25, Lovelace scrambled out of a near sack, lured the defensive back into thinking he was going to run, and then lofted one into the corner of the end zone where Loveland had slipped behind the defender for the game-winning score.
"All of our hard work and with some of the abuse we've taken, it's paying off for us now," Meek said.
Lovelace finished the night throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. He also rushed for one score. Meek praised his signal caller's poise and leadership.
"When we have a quarterback that can make good decisions, then we can move the ball," Meek said.
The loss drops Timpanogos to 1-2 in region play, with a home game remaining next week against Lone Peak.