Corner Canyon was in cruise control until Lehi grabbed the wheel, threw the momentum in reverse and drove to 25 unanswered second half points Friday night for a thrilling 25-24 victory.
Held scoreless until the third quarter and trailing 24-0, the Pioneers scored three touchdowns in less than four minutes of game time, came up with crucial late defensive plays and survived a last second missed field goal to topple the Chargers.
“They just played hard and never quit,” Lehi coach Ed Larson said. “We made a ton of mistakes but my hat’s off to just the grit of this team. That’s been our motto and their grit for this has been fantastic.”
After a collection of critical early mistakes and two first-half Isaac Wilson touchdowns keyed the commanding Corner Canyon lead, Lehi marched on an eight-play drive through tough Carson Gonzalez carries, before quarterback Jackson Brousseau hit Kolton Tanner for a 14-yard touchdown on a comeback route in the center of the end zone with 6:10 left in the third.
“Even in the first half, we were working but we just weren’t clicking all the way,” Brousseau said. “I knew at some point we were going to click and it finally clicked in the second half.”
Corner Canyon incurred a penalty on a failed Lehi two-point attempt and the Pioneers corralled a surprise squib kick with the shortened field to regain possession. Brousseau took advantage of the prime field position in a hurry, finding Makafefie Havea for a 16-yard toe-tapping red zone catch on the Chargers’ sideline to cut further into the deficit, 24-13.
Just three plays later, the Chargers sent a snap over Wilson’s head and Isaac Terrell pounced on the loose ball. Gifted another golden opportunity, Gonzalez chewed up a chunk of yardage to tee up Kolose Latu for a 1-yard touchdown burrow. After another missed two-point chance, the Pioneers were down 24-19 with 2:58 in the third quarter.
“If they didn’t snap it over the head, it was going to be a sack, no doubt,” Terrell said. “But it happened to be a fumble recovery which is better.”
As the fourth quarter dawned, Brousseau fumbled but Wilson fumbled it back just two plays later. Emboldened with more good fortune, the Lehi quarterback hit Jace John in the middle of the field for a wide open 37-yard scoring toss to make it 25-24 with 8:08 left in the game.
“The defense got the ball back to us quick and we knew we had things we wanted to attack,” Brousseau said. “They gave it to us quick and so we were able to go right at them.”
Corner Canyon’s ensuing drive was fruitless and Lehi bled clock until a Brousseau pooch punt pinned the Chargers deep with 1:36 remaining in the game.
Wilson wasn’t yet finished, surviving two sacks and coming up with crucial throws to give the Chargers one final shot at a game-winning field goal. Preston Rasmussen’s 35-yard attempt fell short and Lehi walked away with the comeback victory and an undefeated preseason to roll into region play on the highest of highs.
“Our kids believed in this and we got past the hump last year playing the Timpviews of the world,” Larson said. “It’s just fantastic, so we’re excited.”