High school football: Timpview leans on Targhee Lambson, explosive special teams to upset top-seed Brighton in 5A quarterfinals
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Timpview’s Raider Damuni had seen a few too many of his punts stonewalled high in the air by the swirling wind, so he took the green light from his coaches and called his own number.
Damuni broke open an electric 62-yard punt fake touchdown in the third quarter to complement a relentless, two touchdown effort from running back Targhee Lambson to send the Thunderbirds to the 5A semifinals in a 35-24 upset victory over undefeated Brighton.
“I just knew we needed a spark. On offense, we weren’t getting the ball moving that well,” Damuni said. “I knew I had to make a play.”
Timpview’s defense jumped all over Brighton on the Bengals’ first offensive snap of the game, turning a Gabe Curtis fumble into a 9-yard scoop and score for Braxton Fely.
The Thunderbirds struck again with another standout special teams play after recovering a Brighton muffed punt to set up a 2-yard scoring dive from Lambson to make it 14-0 with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
Lambson, who rushed for more than 125 yards on the night, said Timpview’s focus was to grind out rush after rush to lean on Brighton’s defense throughout the game.
“We wanted to run the ball as much as we could, man. We trusted our O-line, and the O-line came to play,” Lambson said. “Our receivers were blocking well and we just executed, man.”
Brighton strung together a long drive to get on the board with a 38-yard Ben Passey field goal and gathered momentum thanks to a timely fumble recovery from Tanner Church. The Bengals switched gears to feature running back Owen Powers, who capitalized with a 6-yard waltz into the end zone to edge closer to Timpview, 14-10.
Church plucked a Liu Aumavae interception on Timpview’s next drive and Curtis romped through a pair of tackles two plays later with a 44-yard rushing score to take Brighton’s first lead of the night, 17-14, with 5:05 left in the first half.
Aided by a pair of costly Brighton penalties, Timpview reeled off a 16-play drive punctuated with Lambson’s second score of the night to regain the 21-17 lead going into halftime.
“We weren’t undefeated but the reason we play the games we play is for games like this,” Timpview coach Andy Stokes said. “The kids were prepared, they were ready to go and they were ready to play a physical game.”
Directly after Damuni’s punt fake score, Timpview kept up the special teams aggression with a converted onside kick and leaned on Lambson once again to set up an Aumavae play action 19-yard scoring pass to a wide open Chaid Allred for a 35-17 lead with 11:08 to go in the game.
Curtis found Collin Edwards for a 37-yard scoring strike with 7:00 left to narrow the gap, but Timpview’s defense clamped down with a pair of sacks to ice the game on the Bengals’ last offensive drive.
With the semifinals up next, Timpview is as motivated as ever to keep making noise in the 5A playoffs.
“We’ve just got to stay hungry. We weren’t satisfied last week, we’re not going to be satisfied this week,” Lambson said. “We’re not going to be satisfied until two weeks later. That’s the mindset.”