SANDY — Pleasant Grove coach Dale Sampson knows he is enjoying a streak of good fortune these days.
With players like Quinn Newbold — and a little bit of luck — the Vikings reached the 5A state football playoffs. On Tuesday night, Pleasant Grove rallied to beat Brighton 14-10 in a Region 4 play-in game at Alta High School's field.
"It's playoff time and an opportunity," said Sampson, whose team improved to 5-6 overall and won its second straight at Alta. "We'd love to play here again. We're feeling really fortunate."?
Pleasant Grove will now play at Fremont, the top seed from Region 1, in a 5A playoff game Saturday at 1 p.m. ?
Unfortunately, the Vikings can't play at Alta, where they upset the Hawks last Friday night, and then avenged a 21-14 home loss to Brighton in this late-afternoon contest. Pleasant Grove won — despite just 177 yards of total offense — thanks to big plays by Newbold, running back Colton Babb, quarterback Paul Hatch and defensive back Parker Johnson.
Babb had 119 of those yards on 29 carries. Babb's biggest plays came late in the game — a three-yard run on a 4th-and-2 play, and then scoring the winning touchdown three plays later. The fourth-down play came with Pleasant Grove trailing 10-7 and the ball at Brighton's 6-yard line. Pleasant Grove could have chosen an easy field goal try that would have tied the game. It was another in a series of interesting decisions by Sampson that have turned out in the Vikings' favor.
"I'm going to give that call to my O-line," said Sampson. "It's a one-game season and we have to make plays or we don't deserve to be here."?
Brighton coach Ryan Bullett appreciated that comment. The Bengals, who finished with 246 yards of offense, rushed for just six yards in the second half, and even their biggest pass play gained just 15 yards after intermission.
"We had our chances," said Bullett. "We had guys standing around waiting for someone to make a play. Well, they saw Pleasant Grove make the plays, and they won the ball game."?
Midway through the fourth quarter, Brighton tried to make a big play. But quarterback Derek Newell's pass was intercepted by Johnson, who returned it 18 yards, which set up Babb's score.
Until then, Brighton led most of the way, and Bengal fans seemed ready for them to make up for last season, when the team was in the same situation but lost a play-in game to Jordan.
The Bengals got a 10-yard touchdown pass from?Newell to Uaea Mesina in the second quarter and a 20-yard field goal by Aaron Stoddard. The defense also held the Vikings to just 47 yards of offense in the first half, but led just 10-7.
Most of that can be attributed to Newbold, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior who kept the Vikings close and also prevented Brighton from delivering a knockout blow.
Newbold, who plays safety in the Vikings' defense, made the biggest play of the opening half, blocking a Brighton punt. He then picked up the ball at the 2-yard line and scooted into the end zone.
"It just went for it as hard as I could," Newbold said.
In the first half alone, Newbold punted three times, and two of his kicks netted more than 50 yards. He also ran down Brighton running back Manase Ulikivaiola, who seemed headed for a touchdown but had to "settle" for a 65-yard run, had two big hits on Brighton receivers, and then prevented another score by stopping Brighton's Greg Peterson at the 1-yard line.
For his efforts, Pleasant Grove gets to play again, even if it is with just four days of rest.
"At this point, we'd rather play than practice," Sampson said.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company