High school football: Spanish Fork, Provo entertain fans in offensive thriller won by Dons, 62-43
PROVO — If one is a fan of offense, the game between Spanish Fork and Provo more than delivered.
The contest featured 105 combined total points scored and 1,043 yards of total offense. But when the dust finally settled, Spanish Fork escaped with a 62-43 victory.
The game wasn't totally devoid of defense, and in fact, the first score of the contest came via a 40-yard interception return by Spanish Fork's Kobe Wilson.
Arguably the game might have been decided in the first quarter when Spanish Fork was able to "break serve" in the score fest by securing the pick six followed up by a six-yard scoring run by Taylor Noles to go up 14-0. Pretty much after this, it was a back and forth affair with the Bulldogs failing in the end to catch up.
Noles was indeed the star for the Dons as the senior running back found the end zone four times and had 296 yards rushing. But none of his runs were more spectacular than his final score, a school-record 98-yard scamper that iced the game for the Dons.
Spanish Fork's offense was so prolific in the later stages of the game that it had two one-play possessions resulting in 148 total yards of offense. Besides Noles' electrifying run to pay dirt, quarterback Jason Money zig-zagged across the field on a 50-yard score.
Spanish Fork's rushing attack battered the Bulldogs for 439 total yards with Noles and Money doing the vast majority of the damage. Add in 155 yards passing by Money, and Spanish Fork's offense racked up 594 yards of total offense.
Money ran for two touchdowns of his own while passing for another. His lone scoring pass, though, proved critical in the game's outcome.
Provo had cut the Dons' lead to 28-21 with 50.4 seconds left in the half when Vili Iongi hooked up with Brandon Holden on a 16-yard strike. But after taking over on its 40-yard line, Spanish Fork and Money engineered a four-play 60-yard drive that culminated with Money finding Joe Anderson behind the Provo defenders for a 29-yard score with just 12.7 seconds left before intermission. Ridge Payne connected on the extra point, giving Spanish Fork a 35-21 lead going into the locker room.
This score was then backed up by Brandon Norris' 15-yard sprint early in the third quarter, which vaulted Spanish Fork out to a 42-21 advantage.
The Bulldogs never fully recovered as the closest the Bulldogs approached the Dons was when they pulled within 13 points.
While Spanish Fork chewed up huge chunks of yardage on the ground, Provo's offense was more of an aerial assault as Iongi passed for 430 yards and four touchdowns. Provo's sophomore signal caller also added one more score on the ground.
The Bulldogs were bolstered by the return of Chase Heiner, a junior receiver and Provo's most dynamic athlete, who was lost after the first game of the season due to a broken collar bone. Heiner had two touchdown catches of 17 and 11 yards, but unfortunately on his last score in the fourth quarter, re-injured his collar bone.
Isaiah Jones also had a spectacular game for the Bulldogs as he brought in a team-high seven catches for 118 yards and one touchdown. Jones hauled in a 41-yard scoring catch when the Bulldogs converted a fourth down and 36.
Another solid game was turned in by Provo's Brayden Hinckley, who ran for 23 yards on five carries and a TD score. Hinckley also added four catches for 81 yards and had seven kickoff returns for 133 yards. Hinckley had 237 all-purpose yards.
Spanish Fork (4-5, 3-2) now faces Salem Hills (7-2, 3-2) and with a win would secure at least a tie for second place in league play. Meanwhile, Provo (1-8, 0-5) takes on Timpview (8-1, 5-0), which clinched the Region 8 title when it whipped Wasatch Friday night 35-0. Both of these games will be played Thursday night.
Score by quarter:
Spanish Fork 14 21 7 20 — 62
Provo 7 14 7 15 — 43
Sp.Fork — Kobe Wilson 40 interception return (Tanner Parker kick)
Sp.Fork — Taylor Noles 6 run (Ridge Payne kick)
Provo — Vili Iongi 1 run (Jonah Higgenbotham kick)
Sp.Fork — Jason Money 19 run (Payne kick)
Provo — Chase Heiner 17 pass from Iongi (Higgenbotham kick)
Sp.Fork — Noles 2 run (Payne kick)
Provo — Brandon Holden 16 pass from Iongi (Higgenbotham kick)
Sp.Fork — Joe Anderson 29 pass from Money (Payne kick)
Sp.Fork — Brandon Norris 15 run (Payne kick)
Provo — Brayden Hinckley 2 run (Higgenbotham kick)
Sp.Fork — Noles 5 run (Payne kick)
Provo — Heiner 11 pass from Iongi (Iongi run)
Sp.Fork — Jason Money 50 run (kick failed)
Provo — Isaiah Jones 41 pass from Iongi (Higgenbotham kick)
Sp.Fork — Noles 98 run (Payne kick)
Brian E. Preece is a freelance sports writer.