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High school football: Orem outlasts Bountiful in 5A quarterfinal shootout

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Orem and Bountiful compete in the 5A quarterfinal football game in Bountiful on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Orem won 40-33.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Box score

The playoffs are a beautiful time of year, especially when you get a gift like the Bountiful and Orem football game Friday.

With advancing in the 5A playoffs on the line, the two teams combined for 858 yards of total offense and battled until the last play of the night. In the end, Orem was all smiles and Bountiful was heartbroken from the 40-33 thriller.

“That was an old school, heavyweight fight there — toe-to-toe down to the last play, last second of the last quarter,” said Orem coach Gabriel Sewell. “My hat’s off to Coach (Jason) Freckleton and the Redhawks of Bountiful. They gave us more than a run for our money. They had a great season, and we appreciate them.”

It was a fight for sure, with the two teams tied at halftime 20-20 before a crazy third quarter that saw four combined scores in under five minutes of play.

Orem started off the craziness, moving the ball down the field after taking the second half kickoff. Mack Hixson rolled in from 15 yards out, but the Tigers’ PAT was blocked to keep the lead at 26-20.

Extra point woes were a recurring theme throughout the game for both teams, as were turnovers.

The Redhawks needed just two plays to respond, capped off by the Bountiful offensive line making a hole that Corbin Cottle snuck through and jetted 59 yards into the end zone. A bad snap on the PAT kept things knotted up at 26-26.

But Orem had a blunt answer, as Kolton Brown took the ensuing kickoff from inside the 10-yard line and was off to the races to put the Tigers back on top, and they converted the PAT for a 33-26 margin. 

The seesaw battle charged on, as it was Bountiful’s turn to answer. Quarterback Owen Geilman was both a runner and passer on the drive, scoring from 8 yards out after tossing a beautiful screen pass to Drew Bowles for 19 yards.

Bountiful converted its PAT to even things up again, this time at 33-33 with 5:01 left to play in the third quarter.

As crazy as the four-score stretch was, things settled down soon after, including the first punts of the game for both teams.

Orem would eventually string together a strong drive that proved to be the game winner. It was Hixson rushing into the end zone again after Orem used up nearly five minutes of the clock on the drive. The Tigers added the PAT to go up 40-33 with 2:51 left to play. 

Bountiful hung in until the end, but saw its two final drives end with a failed fourth down conversion and incomplete pass as time ended. 

“Isn’t that what playoff football is about — dynamic big plays by both teams and battling?” said Sewell. “If you’re a fan, you would have loved to watch today’s game.”

The Tigers, who move on to play No. 1 Springville next week, were led by Hixson and Brown, who combined for 260 yards on the ground.

Cottle finished with 164 rushing yards in the loss for Bountiful.

“Orem is a tough program and they are tough to knock off,” said Freckleton. “We gave them everything we had and didn’t back down. I’m proud of the effort of my players and how they stayed together until the end, and they’ll always have that.”