COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — What's the sound of no hands clapping? The deafening silence from the huge Brighton homecoming crowd when Alta's Blake Tillotson picked off Brighton's Matt Marietta with 40 seconds left to seal 18th-ranked Alta's (3-2) upset over 2nd-ranked Brighton (4-1) Friday night.
Coldplay and Simon and Garfunkel may sing of going home, but home was not kind to previously unbeaten Brighton with the Alta defense geared up to swarm the ball and slow top Bengals running back Mike Hague and stop the Brighton offense that had scored 55 last week.
"I'm so proud of the way Alta stepped up and played with pride tonight," said Alta head coach Les Hamilton. "It's been a while since these guys have come out and played with so much heart."
Hamilton credited his defense and said the difference was that the offense did not put the defense in a bad position like they had in some games this season. Alta defensive coordinator Ron Halbert said that all week he and the defense had been working on a plan to slow Hague down.
"We let (Hague) get away with one big play, but I thought our kids played great," Halbert said. "They just flew to the ball."
Coming into the fourth quarter Alta sat on a 14-3 lead, but Brighton finally found their touch and made their first trip to the end zone with a goal-line keeper from Marietta.
On the next Alta drive, when it looked like time to start whittling the clock down, the Hawks went 80 yards in three plays to score again and stretch their lead to 21-9.
Brighton answered right back on a third and 21 when Hague magically popped out of a huge pile and blew by everyone for the length of the field for a 91-yard touchdown, trimming the lead back down to 5.
Brighton got two chances late to keep drives going late in the fourth but came up short each time. On a fourth and two with 2:35 left, a fumbled snap gave the ball back to Alta. Brighton's defense held and Alta punter Matt Frogley was forced to run the ball on a bad snap, putting the Bengals in position to make one last drive. On the first play, though, Tillotson's interception, his second of the night, stunned the Brighton sideline and crowd as the reality of the loss sank in.
Before the game even began, there was a bit of gamesmanship on each side. A Brighton administrator walked along the Alta stands and let loose the balloons the Alta fans had blown up for the game, citing district regulations. On the other side, Alta showed up for the game minutes before kickoff, choosing to get warmed up and psyched up at home first.
The first quarter went back and forth, ending with the score knotted at 0-0.
Early in the second quarter it looked like things were going to start heading Brighton's way when a low shotgun snap skidded under Bowen's legs and was recovered by the Bengals on Alta's 8-yard line.
The defense made up for the mistake with Alta lineman Branden Hansen blowing through the line and slamming Marietta for a 13-yd loss on third down. The icing on the impressive defensive stand came when Alta's Mario Tuttle smothered Brighton's field-goal attempt.
Using that momentum, Alta marched down the field with Austyn Whittenburg pounding it through for the game's first score with 4:24 left in the half.
On Brighton's next possession with only a minute left in the half, the Bengals decided to let it fly on fourth down and let Coleman Peterson go for a 57-yard field goal, which he nailed with leg to spare.
In the third Alta's defense again stood strong, keeping Brighton under wraps.