The Pleasant Grove Vikings showed a balanced effort Friday in defeating the Davis Darts, the No. 1 team in Region 1, 22-15, in a sandwich kind of game as the scoring was produced in the first and fourth quarters with tough, hard-hitting defense in the middle.
Viking head coach Les Hamilton said, "This was a very balanced team win tonight. Our offense, defense and special teams came up with the plays we needed when we needed them."
On Davis' first possession on a fourth and 2, deep in its own territory, Pleasant Grove blocked the punt and recovered the ball on the Darts' 10-yard line. Senior running back TJ Wind took the handoff on the Vikings' first play and bounced outside and up the field for Pleasant Grove's first touchdown with 7:47 remaining in the first quarter. Senior kicker Cesar Madrigal added the PAT and the Vikings were up 7-0. Senior quarterback Jeremiah Evans said, "That block was huge. It gave us the momentum we needed to get that first score." He added, "I just have to look at this team and feel the focus and drive, it's a great feeling."
In Davis' first two possessions, it was held to a three and out situation. On the following two possessions, the Darts went four and out. On the Vikings' fourth possession, they used passes and rushing to move the ball and use up the clock. With the Vikings on the 1-yard line, Wind ran outside and leaped across the corner of the end zone for the Vikings' second touchdown with only 40 seconds remaining on the clock. Madrigal added his second PAT and the Vikings ended the quarter in control with a 14-0 score.
During the second and third quarters there was plenty of effort but nothing to show for it. Both teams moved the ball up and down the field but were turned away from the goal line by outstanding defensive efforts you would expect to see on region championship teams. Coach Hamilton said, "It takes a team's defense to step up and play better each time. When we have needed them to make plays, they have done it, they go out and get it done."
Hamilton also added, "In the fourth quarter, Davis did get it going and we had to step up again."
At the end of the third quarter, Davis had a great punt return that put the Darts on the Vikings' 19-yard line. Senior quarterback Colton Chronister got the Darts to the Vikings' 10-yard line as time ran out. To start the fourth quarter, he got them a first down and on the next play, junior running back Mason White took the handoff and ran up the middle for a nine yard scamper and the Darts were on the board. Senior kicker Davis Owen added the PAT, and with 11:37 showing on the clock, the score was 14-7 for the Vikings, but the momentum had clearly changed.
Running their own form of clock control, Davis got the ball back and ran off 13 plays, ending in a 10-yard pass from Chronister to senior wide receiver Abel Porter in the end zone for the Darts' second touchdown of the quarter. Chronister then hit senior Davis Hanson, cutting across the end zone for a two-point conversion, giving the Darts the lead at 15-14 with 4:47 showing on the clock. They used up almost six minutes on that drive alone.
With the ball coming back to the Vikings, Evans looked at his teammates and said, "Watch what happens next."
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore running back Coleman Edwards took the ball from the Viking backfield and ran 45 yards to the Darts' 18-yard line. There was a facemask penalty, which added another 15 yards that put the ball on the Darts' 3-yard line. Wind took the handoff and plunged three yards for the Vikings' third touchdown. Evans completed a pass to senior receiver Spencer Romney in the end zone for a two-point conversion and Pleasant Grove answered the challenge as the score now stood at 22-15 in favor of the Vikings with 3:55 remaining in the game.
Evans said, "This week's practices have been the best ones we've had. They got us ready to play tonight. We played with discipline and confidence tonight. We knew we could do this."
Coach Hamilton said, "Evans has gained the team's confidence and support. He is a strong and most hard-working young man on this team."
The Darts had time to run some offense, but on a fourth and two, Chronister threw the ball out of bounds and turned the ball over on downs. With less than two minutes to play, the Vikings ran out the clock and celebrated a tough win against a tough Region 1 champion.
The Darts had 44 carries for 176 rushing yards and 13 of 29 passing for 170 yards for a total of 346 offensive yards. The Vikings had 36 carries for 105 yards and 15 of 22 passing for 182 yards for a total of 287 yards of offense.
Viking running back TJ Wind had the majority of the running game as he had 30 carries for 108 yards rushing and all three Viking touchdowns.
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The Vikings will face Region 3 third-seed Jordan High School next Friday. Jordan defeated Hunter High School, on the road, 56-28 at Hunter this Friday.
The current standings show that the balance of the state playoffs for 2013 will have teams from Region 3 playing against teams from Region 4 as they defeated their opponents from Regions 1 and 2, effectively eliminating those teams from any further competition in this postseason play.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports for Deseret Connect.