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Hillcrest defense is the key

WEST JORDAN — Hillcrest's defense picked the perfect game to play its best football.

With a home playoff game potentially at stake, the Huskies held West Jordan to 69 yards of second-half offense and forced three turnovers for the game to secure the 14-6 victory Thursday.

"It's a huge win for us," said Hillcrest coach Bruce Takeno. "To get this one is very satisfying."

With a log-jam of 2-2 teams in the middle of the Region 2 standings, for both teams a loss probably spoiled any hopes of hosting a first-round playoff game.

Hillcrest's defense kept that hope alive — several times.

Even after Robert Takeno's 1-yard plunge put Hillcrest ahead 14-6 with 2:27 remaining, West Jordan was still very much in the game. Thanks to a pair of first downs, the Jaguars advanced the ball to midfield with 46 seconds remaining and three timeouts.

On West Jordan's next play, Hillcrest linebacker Takeno raced through the line to sack quarterback Spencer Love. Two plays later, Volar Jacome recorded another sack to set up a troublesome fourth-and-20 for the Jaguars' Wing-T run-oriented offense.

Not surprisingly, Hillcrest's blitzing defense forced West Jordan into a game-ending incompletion.

"The defense stepped it up and learned their lesson," said Hillcrest quarterback Adam Eastman, in reference to Hillcrest's loss to Riverton's Wing-T offense earlier this year.

The Huskies are a swarming defense, but against a Wing-T offense designed around deception and motion, it's virtually impossible to swarm.

"It's hard to find the ball for us," said Takeno.

Hillcrest struggled somewhat with the Jags' offense in the first half giving up 167 yards. Despite the yards, however, two of West Jordan's four first-half drives ended in punts, while another resulted in a fumble in good field position.

West Jordan's only points occurred just before halftime when Love connected with Ryan Wilson on a 4-yard touchdown pass, but a missed extra point only cut the deficit to 7-6. That four-play, seven-minute drive was aided by two fourth-down conversions.

Earlier in the half, Hillcrest took its 7-0 lead on a 41-yard strike from Eastman to Hillcrest leading receiver Ben Hendy.

Leading 7-6, Hillcrest took the opening possession of the second half and reeled off a nine-minute, 16-play drive — but amazingly came up empty.

"We controlled the game offensively and defensively, but we just couldn't score points," said Takeno.

Even with a first-and-goal from the six, and then fourth-and-goal from the one with five minutes remaining in the game, Hillcrest couldn't punch it when Eastman slipped near the goal line.

"I could smell the end zone; I just slipped and couldn't get in," said Eastman.

Two plays later, though, Hillcrest's Marston Sawyers intercepted a pass and set up Takeno's touchdown in the final minutes.

With the win, Hillcrest improves to 3-2 in Region 2 and remains tied with Alta for the coveted third seed. West Jordan falls to 2-3 and is in sole possession of fifth place.

In other action Thursday:

REGION 2

BRIGHTON 37, COPPER HILLS 20: Bengal rushers Taylor Gleave and Ryan Carter earned more than 100 yards for Brighton in a sloppy win over Copper Hills.

ALTA 38, RIVERTON 28: Byron Putnam rushed for 262 yards on 25 carries with three touchdowns in the win for the Hawks.

BINGHAM 38, JORDAN 0: Bingham spread 30 carries over three ball carriers in a ground-based win for the Miners.

REGION 6

SPANISH FORK 34, PAYSON 7: Tailback Nick Welsh scored three touchdowns in leading the Dons to their first league win. Welsh had touchdown runs of 21 and 86 yards and also returned an interception 96 yards for a score. He intercepted another pass on the game's opening play. The Lions were plagued by seven turnovers, six inside Spanish Fork territory.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com