AMERICAN FORK — For the first time this season, Pleasant Grove broke through on the road.
Pleasant Grove running back Colton Babb rushed the ball 32 times for 105 yards, and the Vikings managed to emerge with a 28-21 win over neighbor American Fork Wednesday night.
Pleasant Grove will face Bingham next week to decide the Region 4 championship, thanks to Wednesday's road win.
"This was a game where the whole team had to step up and play their best game," said Pleasant Grove coach Les Hamilton. "Babb was huge for us tonight and (Michael) Anderson had some challenges but came through and made the plays we needed. Next week we will need things to go our way as it will be a winner-take-all situation, but tonight, we will just enjoy this win."
The Vikings wasted little time moving the ball on their opening drive using a mix of run and pass. With 8:30 left in the first quarter, Viking senior quarterback Anderson found sophomore wide receiver Tyler Schade over the middle, and Schade turned it into the Viking's first touchdown, a 38-yarder.
"When the coach told me I would be playing varsity, and he wanted me to play like a senior, I was pretty nervous about it," said Schade. "But I worked my way through it and got over it." Viking kicker Trevor Ward scored the PAT and with 8:24 remaining, and the Vikings were on top 7-0.
The Cavemen, proving they were equal to the task, took the ensuing kickoff and just as efficiently moved the ball in the other direction. On fourth-and-1 from the 21-yard line, Caveman QB Jeremiah Evans handed the ball off to sophmore Lopini Katoa and he scooted through the defensive line to score the Cavemen's first touchdown of the game. Caveman kicker Tanner Lee added the PAT. At the end of the first quarter the game was locked up at 7-7.
With a half minute left in the second quarter and each team having scored another seven points each, Viking senior wide receiver Skyler Munson took the ball and crossed the goal-line for the Vikings' go-ahead score, but a mishandled snap on the PAT left Pleasant Grove up by six instead of seven.
The Vikings were glad to be in the lead at halftime, but they also knew the Cavemen would not go away. "We knew this was going to be a tough game — that they would be playing for their life tonight," said Hamilton.
The Vikings kicked off to start the second half. American Fork had a great rushing touchdown called back because of an illegal block, but still held on to the ball, getting three more first downs before finally punting back to the Vikings.
On Pleasant Grove's first posession, the ball was knocked loose and rolled into the Viking end zone and a Caveman defensive back jumped on the ball for a fumble-recovery touchdown for American Fork. Lee successfully scored the PAT for AF and with 4:53 remaining in the third, American Fork led for the first time, 21-20.
Pleasant Grove got the ball back, but ended the quarter punting to the Cavemen.
During the fourth quarter, both teams had two posessions.
On the Vikings' second posession, they scored via a quick pass to Schade for a 15-yard touchdown and successfully scored on a two-point conversion to senior tight end Dallin Hatch, bringing the Vikings back on top, 28-21.
American Fork got the ball back, but Pleasant Grove's defense stiffened up and shut down the Cavemen to preserve the victory.
American Fork had 32 carries for 107 yards rushing and 9-of-9 passes for 90 yards for a total of 197 yards on offense. Pleasant Grove had 41 carries for 151 yards rushing and 13-of-21 passes for 262 yards passing for a total of 413 yards offense.
The Vikings now stand at 3-1 in region and 6-3 overall and will now prepare for next week's showdown with Bingham.
Meanwhile, American Fork will play at Riverton next week.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports.