After a tough pre-region slate sharpened Timpview’s edges, the Thunderbirds made an emphatic statement Friday night as a dominant force in the race for the 5A title.
Liu Aumavae’s four-touchdown aerial attack and a punishing three-touchdown rushing combo of Micah Beckstead and Kerven Tua’one combined with a second half defensive shutout for a staggering 62-21 Timpview win over Region 8 opponent Alta.
Timpview coach Andy Stokes said the team prioritized playing heavyweight teams in the run up to region contests to test and correct weaknesses.
“Those are good teams. Skyridge, you play them and they expose your flaws and it gives you an opportunity to go to the drawing board and fix them,” Stokes said.
Alta took the early lead with a series of screen passes to temper Timpview’s pass rush before Ethan Jackson found Noah Flores over the top with an arcing rainbow of a 32-yard touchdown toss to make it 7-0 at 7:06 into the game.
“They’re good backs. We are blessed to have two really good guys right now and they’re both working hard.” — Timpview coach Andy Stokes on Micah Beckstead and Kerven Tua’one
Timpview revved up its blistering paced offense to strike back less than a minute later with huge Tua’one chunk runs before Aumavae found Pokai Haunga for a 19-yard scoring strike to even the score.
After an Alta punt, Aumavae and Beckstead took turns shouldering the offense until the quarterback found Isaiah Vaea for a 23-yard scoring strike. Aumavae credited his offensive line, a group that kept him clean and allowed Timpview’s receivers to run wide open all night.
“They challenged themselves early on in the week to prove that they’re the best in the state. They really proved it tonight,” Aumavae said. “They gave me all the time in the world and when you have that long, the receivers come open as need be.”
Alta answered with a two-play drive capped with another Jackson-Flores connection, this time for a 45-yard touchdown, to tie the game 14-14 with 1:37 left in the third quarter.
Aumavae and Beckstead went back to work before the passer split two Alta defenders to find freshman Zed Ambrosio open in the end zone for a 17-yard scoring toss.
On the ensuing Alta possession, Siale Esera pounced on a fumbled Jackson snap and the Thunderbirds were back in the end zone four plays later with a 5-yard Tua’one scoring rumble leading to a 28-14 advantage with 8:04 left in the first half.
“We knew as an offense that we’re really talented so we score as much as we wanted,” Aumavae, whose birthday was Friday night, said. “Our defense allowing us to go up two scores really pushed the momentum in our favor.”
Alta found another gear one more time as Jackson hit four different receivers in one drive and bought time with his legs to find Jensen Campbell on the run with a 14-yard touchdown.
Timpview leaned on Beckstead again for a 3-yard rushing score in a backbreaking 13-play drive just before halftime to enter the break, 35-21.
“We emphasize running the ball hard, making sure that we’re getting extra money on everything and making sure everybody is doing their part,” Stokes said. “They’re good backs. We are blessed to have two really good guys right now and they’re both working hard.”
The Thunderbirds’ defense clamped down after the break with another fumble recovery on Alta’s opening second half possession, leading to Aumavae’s fourth and final touchdown of the night one play later and a 42-21 lead with a wide-open seam route connection to Ambrosio.
“They changed the tide of the game,” Stokes said of his defense. “It wasn’t a blowout. They were moving the ball and they were in the game. Our defense came out of halftime and changed the game.”
Beckstead was back in the end zone for his second scoring tote of the night three minutes later and the rout was complete as Timpview’s backups scored the final two touchdowns to ice the margin of victory.
Stokes observed that the combination of a stout defense and potent rushing attack are required ingredients in the majority of state title runs – qualities his team unquestionably possessed Friday night.
“It’s the mark of a good team. It’s the mark of a champion,” Stokes said. “That’s our goal.”