High school football: T-birds come out on top of Utah County powers
HIGHLAND — In a matchup between Utah County's powerhouse prep football programs it was Timpview reigning supreme over Lone Peak 36-33. The Thunderbirds used key halftime adjustments on the defensive end that completely changed the course of the game in the second half.
The first half resembled more of an All-Madden video game more than a prep football contest. Both teams accounted for more than 300 yards of total offense in the first half with Lone Peak taking a 27-26 lead into intermission. Quarterback Baron Gajkowski led the way for Lone Peak — dicing the Thunderbird defense through the air and on the ground. He ended the half with 206 yards passing, 95 yards rushing and three touchdown.
Timpview quarterback Jake Lloyd did similar work on his end, throwing for just under 300 yards and three touchdowns in the first half while gaining some good yardage on the ground. A good chunk of Lloyd's first half yards came courtesy of an 80-yard touchdown pass to Braydon Galland with just 26 seconds left.
"Our offense was clicking," said Timpview Coach Cary Whittingham, stating the plainly obvious. "We were doing a good job, but unfortunately we were still having some issues with penalties that hurt us."
What wasn't clicking was defensive execution on either side, but if there is anything a Whittingham knows, it's how to coach defense. It should have been well-assumed that the Thunderbird futility on defense would be done away in the second half.
Sure enough the Thunderbirds completely change the course of the game after intermission — using a lot of ball-control on offense while holding the Knights scoreless until just two seconds remaining in the contest.
"We just made a couple of adjustments is all," said Whittingham. "We talked to some of the players — put them in better spots, but that's about it."
The defense also did well to put its offensive teammates in good spots, forcing and then recovering a fumble two plays into the second half to set up a 32-yard field goal by Bret Mathews.
The game remained tight before Lloyd engineered an 11-play, 60-yard touchdown scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter. Lloyd hit Galland from five-yards out for the score.
Lone Peak threatened late, but a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt with 5:34 remaining left it in dire straights. Timpview proceeded to eat a lot of clock from that point, leaving the Knights just 1:06 to work with to go 78 yards to overcome their 36-26 deficit. Gajkowski was able to march his team down the field — scoring on an acrobatic eight yard run, but with only 2.6 seconds left on the clock it was far too little too late.
"I'm very pleased because we fought hard," said Whittingham. "It was very similar to the Alta (loss), but our kids willed ourselves to win this one."