High school football: Lone Peak backup QBs combine on winning play
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
HIGHLAND — With its starting quarterback going down with injury, two other Lone Peak quarterbacks stepped up big in his place — securing a 21-17 comeback win over Region 4 rival Bingham.
With just 50 seconds remaining on the clock, backup Braden Miles found third-string quarterback Zachary Mortensen in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score. The student body rushed the field following the improbable comeback win.
"It feels amazing right now," said Mortensen following the game. "To catch the game-winning pass in a game like this — we know that Bingham wanted this game bad and hat's off to them, they played great, but it just feels incredible right now."
Lone Peak appeared all but done with just 1:07 remaining in the third quarter when Bingham linebacker Drake Miller picked off a Baron Gajkowski pass for a touchdown to put the Miners up 17-7. Gajkowski sustained a possible concussion on the play and had to be helped by trainers toward the sideline.
It was then up to Miles to answer the call and rally the team.
"Baron (Gajkowski) is such a tough kid, but he takes a lot of shots, so I knew my chance might come and that I needed to be ready if it did, so I felt prepared and pretty confident," said Miles. "I was just focused and yeah, I was maybe a bit nervous, but I was more excited than anything."
If he was nervous in any way he sure didn't show it. Miles immediately went to work, completing eight of his first nine passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in his first series. The series culminated with Miles hitting a streaking Talon Shumway down the sidelines from 45 yards out for the score, cutting the deficit to just 17-14 with 8:10 left to play.
Bingham responded, however, mounting a drive that reached the Lone Peak 32-yard line before stalling. The Miners chose to go for it on fourth-and-12, but Coleman Stout's pass fell incomplete — giving the Knights the ball back with 4:26 remaining on the clock.
A confident Miles methodically marched his team down the field again, this time completing 5-of-7 passes for 62 yards with three of those completions going to speedster Dustin Watkins for a combined 49 yards.
His final pass came on a third-and-goal situation from the Bingham 6-yard line.
"It was a designed play to hit Talon (Shumway) on a slant corner in the back of the end zone and I had a backside drag across the end zone, but they doubled Talon and left me open," described Mortensen about his game-winning catch. "Fortunately Braden (Miles) found me and I was able to hang on to the pass for the win."
Bingham was able to reach midfield on its next series but came up short after Stout's last pass was knocked down as time expired.
For Miles, it was the moment he's been waiting for after narrowly losing out to Gajkowski for the starting quarterback duties prior to the season.
"This was my first big moment and I was focused on not letting my team down and taking advantage of the moment," said Miles. "I felt good and I was making the right reads, fortunately and guys were making plays. I've been working my whole life for this and I've kept working hard so when my opportunity came I'd be ready for it."
Although it was Miles and Mortensen with the last-minute heroics, the win was a complete team effort according to coach Tony McGeary.
"We had a lot of guys keep their cool when things weren't going so good," said McGeary. "Defensively we had a great plan and it was a total and complete team effort and that's what you love as a coach. Our kids never got down and just believed."
The win marks the second year in a row that Lone Peak has downed Bingham and puts it in the Region 4 driver's seat with three games remaining on the year. The Knights are now 5-2 on the year, 2-0 in region play and will next take on Pleasant Grove.
With the loss, Bingham drops to 5-2 on the year and 1-1 in region play. The Miners will next take on American Fork.