In a tightly contested 5A quarterfinal playoff game on Friday featuring two Region 8 teams, the Lehi Pioneers defense came up huge and gained the momentum early, and ultimately defeated the region champs, the Timpview Thunderbirds, 23-13.
Not even two minutes into the game, the Pioneers defense flexed its muscle. With the Timpview offense starting deep in its own territory, Lehi defensive end Isaac Terrell intercepted a Liu Aumavae pass and quickly ran 12 yards into the end zone to give the visiting team an early 7-0 lead.
The Pioneers defense continued to stay tight and was rewarded with another interception in the quarter, this time by defensive back Kadiyon Sweat.
“Right off the bat we wanted our defense in there because we are a unit and a brotherhood. Our coach wanted us to get the job done and we were fortunate enough to score there and it just gave us the momentum we needed in the game,” said Terrell.
After a 25-yard field goal by Timpview kicker Jacob Larsen put the Thunderbirds on the scoreboard, the Pioneers increased their lead when quarterback Jackson Brousseau threw a 16-yard dart in the end zone to tight end Boston Bingham, making it a 14-3 score heading into the half.
“We knew that we had to hit them hard and get on top of things. Those two interceptions to start the game were huge,” said Lehi head coach Ed Larson.
Timpview’s offense started showing signs of life in the third quarter and scored its first touchdown of the game with five minutes left in the frame thanks to a 6-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone by Pokai Haunga.
A 41-yard field goal by Lehi kicker Zane Goodrich, the first of three key field goals he would convert, made it a 17-10 Pioneers lead late in the quarter.
Timpview would get those three points back early in the fourth quarter behind a 30-yard field goal by Larsen. With six minutes left in the game, Goodrich made it a 7-point lead for the Pioneers, this time by connecting on a 29-yard attempt.
The Thunderbirds had a real shot to cause some drama late in the game. With four minutes left and the ball near midfield, Timpview went for it on fourth and 4. Lehi’s defense came up with the key stop by denying an Aumavae pass down the middle intended for Zedekiah Anahu-Ambrosio.
With 40 seconds left and the chance to seal the victory for Lehi, Goodrich once again came up big, securing the victory by connecting on a field goal from 22 yards out.
“Our defense kept their offense in check all game long. When two great teams play, there’s going to be a lot of back and forth. Ultimately, if you make a few extra plays than your opponent, you come out on top like we did tonight,” said Larson.
Lehi now advances to the semifinals and will play Stansbury, which beat East on Friday. It’s a team the Pioneers know very little about.
“Obviously they have had a great year but we just got to look at some film and see where they’re at. They’re riding a great wave, doing a great job. Stansbury beat Timpview last year towards the end of the regular season, so we know they got a great program,” Larson said.