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No.1 Beetdiggers rally, avoid Bengal upset bid

Jordan-42, Brighton-35

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — For anyone looking closely, this had "upset" written all over it.

The unbeaten Jordan Beetdiggers, the top 5A team in the state, against the struggling Brighton Bengals.

The Diggers, though, came through at the end, rallying behind quarterback Chaun Cook and running back Hayden Moss, to edge the Bengals 42-35 in a cold, wet Region 2 contest.

"It was our wakeup call," said Jordan coach Alex Jacobson. "We knew they couldn't stop us, but we couldn't tackle. Brighton played a great game. We're lucky to leave here with a win.

"The kids saw that Taylorsville beat them, and then you saw how we beat Taylorsville (a 42-15 win) ... This was a set-up."

It also took a gutty performance by the 1-7 Bengals who, despite their record, feel they've improved enough to possibly make the 5-A playoffs.

"We're this close," said Brighton coach Ryan Bullett, pinching his fingers narrowly together. "We're getting better. We're starting to have some more kids step up."

One of them Friday was running back Mike Hanna, who bullied the Jordan defense for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Hanna's runs also allowed quarterback Tommy Thornberg to connect on three long pass plays that led to touchdowns.

But the Bengals' problem was they couldn't stop anyone on defense.

While Hanna's statistics are impressive, Moss did it even better. He ran for 253 yards on 30 carries, and literally carried Brighton defenders on his back during most of them. Whenever the Diggers needed him, he came through.

"They're good, and they're big," said Bullett. "We're young, and we're thin. We made the plays. It was a great game."

Brighton led most of it, delighting the small crowd that braved the weather. The Bengals led 35-28 early in the fourth quarter and could smell the victory. That's when the game got interesting.

Moss and Cody Raymond kept moving the ball. The Diggers were also able to throw it, despite the slick conditions. Raymond gave the Diggers hope when he scored on a 15-yard run.

But misfortune struck, and renewed the Bengals' hope, when a poor snap prevented kicker Jacob Hustedt from tying the game.

Jordan's defense held, though, and that gave the offense a chance to do it again. The team finished with 470 yards total offense and again moved downfield, but faced a 4th-and-1 at the Brighton 26.

Jordan called timeout, and many felt the next play could decide the game.

Jacobsen wasn't worried, however. He had a number of options. And, lost in the statistics was the fact that in 70 plays, Brighton never stopped Jordan behind the line of scrimmage.

Sure enough, Moss rambled for eight yards on the next play. The Diggers made up for the missed extra point when Cook scored on a 13-yard run.

For good measure, Cook hit Bridger Battaglia for the two-point conversion.