Lone Peak committed some uncharacteristic turnovers — including two in the red zone — in Friday’s 6A quarterfinal against Bingham. A stingy defensive effort, however, ensured the Knights will still be playing football next week.
Lone Peak overcame three turnovers total and a gritty effort from underdog Bingham to advance to the semifinals with a tense 21-14 victory that wasn’t polished off until a late first down.
“I think everybody is happy, but I think the mood in the huddle is we made a lot of our own mistakes and we need to fix them,” said Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank.
Two of Lone Peak’s turnovers came on interceptions in the red zone, with the third coming on a muffed punt. Bingham’s offense didn’t score on any of the three takeaways though.
Conversely, Lone Peak’s defense only forced one turnover, but it was a critical fumble on a third-and-long pitch that Mason Patane ultimately recovered in the end zone for the 21-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
Bingham responded with its own scoring drive late in the third to cut the deficit to 21-14, but its offense only touched the ball once in the fourth quarter, and that drive ended with a blocked field goal in the final four minutes.
That defensive stand secured Lone Peak’s spot in next Friday’s 6A semifinals at the University of Utah, where it will take on region rival Skyridge at 6:30 p.m.
“Sometimes when you’ve got 16/17-year-old boys, it’s a little difficult to keep them focused when they can see a different prize, and I felt like our boys did pretty good, but Bingham is a good team. Credit to them, they had a great plan against us,” said Brockbank.
“Credit to our guys I think we adjusted pretty well. We had a lot of turnovers, which is uncharacteristic, but a win’s a win.”
Ironically enough, despite a frustrating first half, Lone Peak actually started the game great.
One play changed everything.
Lone Peak’s defense forced Bingham into a quick punt to start the game, with the offense following with a methodical drive deep into Miner territory. That drive stalled when a pass slipped through the fingers of a receiver and into the diving arms of Bingham defensive back Semisi Latu.
Over the next 10 minutes, Lone Peak’s offense ran just three plays.
Despite the dominance in time of possession — which was aided by a muffed punt return by Lone Peak — Bingham only had seven points to show for it.
Taking advantage of a short punt by the Knights, Bingham opened the scoring at the 7:34 mark of the second quarter as quarterback Dallen Martinez scrambled into the end zone on a 21-yard run for the 7-0 lead.
Lone Peak punted again on its ensuing drive, with Bingham taking over again with great field position and a chance to add to the anxiety on the Lone Peak sideline before halftime.
The Knights’ defense came up with a big stand though, stopping Bingham on a fourth and 5 attempt.
Perhaps feeding off the momentum created by the defense, Lone Peak’s offense finally found the same rhythm it displayed on the opening drive of the game.
Cole Christensen capped the six-play scoring drive, snagging a 6-yard touchdown reception from Easton Comer in the back of the end zone, leveling the score 7-7 with 41 seconds until halftime.
Two plays before his TD reception, Christensen hauled in a 40-yard pass from Comer, one of several clutch plays from the junior who finished with six receptions for 134 yards.
“Cole made big plays when we needed it,” said Brockbank.
Lone Peak opened the second half with possession and repeatedly moved the sticks, marching 80 yards in 12 plays, with Luke Hyde hauling in a 14-yard pass in the corner of the end zone on third and 10, putting his team ahead 14-7 .
A minute later, the entire complexion of the game changed for Bingham.
A holding penalty on third and 7 backed the Miners up to third and 25 from their own 10, and on the next play, a poor pitch attempt on a QB rollout bounced into the end zone, with Patane pouncing on it as the Lone Peak stormed in front 21-7
Despite the hiccup, Bingham didn’t fold up shop and responded with a 65-yard scoring drive with Saia Lomu barreling in from 3 yards with 51 seconds left in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 21-14.
Bingham’s defense bent all the way to the goal line on Lone Peak’s ensuing drive, but it didn’t break, with Tyson Stidham intercepting a pass in the end zone at the seven minute mark to keep hopes alive.
A big completion from Martinez and two Lone Peak penalties helped Bingham respond by moving down to Lone Peak’s 13 yard-line. A holding penalty put it behind the sticks, and the offense never recovered.
“I think that defensive stand at the end where we held them and we blocked that field goal, that was just our defense today. They did whatever it took to keep them from scoring points,” said Brockbank.
One of the unsung heroes on Friday for Lone Peak was running back Jaxson Willits. He was a workhorse, carrying the ball 18 times for 63 yards, several of which converted first downs to keep drives alive.