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High school football: Banged-up Pleasant Grove survives late push from Maple Mountain to improve to 2-0

Pleasant Grove built a 19-0 lead on Maple Mountain but didn’t score in the second half as it held on for the 19-14 win

Action in the Maple Mountain at Pleasant Grove football game in Pleasant Grove on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020.
Action in the Maple Mountain at Pleasant Grove football game in Pleasant Grove on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Box score

PLEASANT GROVE — With as well as Pleasant Grove executed on both sides of the ball through a quarter and a half on Friday, it’s hard to believe that late in the fourth, it needed a first down to ice the victory against Maple Mountain.

That’s precisely the position it was in, but thanks to an incredible pinpoint throw from Sam Leavitt to Isaac Vaha, Pleasant Grove got that late third-down conversion and held on for the 19-14 win despite not scoring in the second half.

“We’re just kind of beat up and tired right now,” said Pleasant Grove coach Mark Wootton, whose team lost its top two receivers to injury during the game. “We just hung on.”

The decisive catch came on a third-and-7 play, on a pass that Leavitt threaded a needle with to Vaha.

“I was supposed to run a 10-yard dig under the safety. The safety crashed down on me and Sam got it right into me,” said Vaha.

Vaha said his team was outplayed in the second half, but a late interception by Carter Merrill on a Maple Mountain third down and 18 ensured the Vikings’ defense didn’t have to step on the field again as it improved to 2-0 this season.

It was only fitting that a third-down conversion sealed it for Pleasant Grove, as it finished the game 8 of 18 on third downs and 3 of 4 on fourth downs.

As poor as Pleasant Grove played offensively in the second half, it was downright awesome in the first half, scoring on its first three drives and building a 19-0 lead.

The Vikings took the opening drive 80 yards in 14 plays, with Porter Connors capping the drive that featured two fourth-down conversions with a 7-yard TD run.

On PG’s second drive, Connors scored again, capping a nine-play drive with a 4-yard burst up the middle for the 13-0 lead with 11:27 left in the second quarter.

“We came out and got going. We have some weapons,” said Wootton.

Watch replay: Pleasant Grove 19, Maple Mountain 14

Pleasant Grove’s third drive was an adventure with a dropped interception and three penalties, one of which took away a touchdown for the Vikings. All that did was set the stage for Darrius Clemons, who hauled in a 29-yard TD pass on fourth down from Leavitt for the 19-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Clemons, one of the top junior receivers in the nation, left in the game in the third quarter with an apparent wrist injury.

Just before halftime, Maple Mountain took advantage of a short field and cut the deficit to 19-7 as Kyson Hall corralled a 12-yard TD pass from Tyler Nelson in the corner of the end zone.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hall again hauled in a Nelson TD pass in the corner of the end zone, cutting the deficit to 19-14.

Maple Mountain’s next two drives ended in a punt and interception, as Pleasant Grove came up with the final big stops when it needed them.