AMERICAN FORK — The battle of The Forks came down to a missed extra point and a huge second half by a backup quarterback.
B.J. Eldredge came on at quarterback in the second half for American Fork to help the Cavemen overcome a 27-14 fourth quarter deficit and capture an inspired 28-27 win over Spanish Fork Friday night.
"Tyler Brimhall was doing a good job for us," said American Fork coach Aaron Behm. "But we felt like they were giving us the option and B.J. has spent a lot of time in the youth leagues playing the option and is a little bit faster. He made that comeback possible."
Hayden Nielsen's 3-yard touchdown run with 6:26 remaining in the third quarter put the Dons ahead 27-14, but it was Guillermo Zepeda's missed extra point that ultimately proved to be the difference.
The Cavemen responded two possessions later with a two-minute drive that covered 64 yards and resulted in a 6-yard touchdown run by Silas Olsen.
That score pulled the Cavemen within one touchdown at 27-21.
Nielsen then drove the Dons to the 37-yard line on the back of a 48-yard pass to Colton Olson, but failed to convert when Eldredge, playing defense, intercepted Nielsen and returned the ball to midfield.
Even after returning the interception, Eldredge caught his breath and led the Cavemen down field, capping the drive with a 34-yard run followed by a 12-yard run into the end zone. Kyle Rusik's extra point put American Fork ahead 28-27.
Nielsen looked as if he was going to lead the Dons to a comeback victory as he marched his team down field with passes of 14, 7, 20 and 19 yards, but a bad snap in the shotgun forced a fumble that was recovered by the Cavemen with just over two minutes remaining.
The Dons stopped the Cavemen on their next two plays and thought they had stripped the ball before the whistle, but the referees said the ball was dead. Three of the Dons lost their cool and were each whistled for personal fouls, including one player who threw the referee's flag and was tossed from the game. The personal fouls resulted in a first down and 45 yards for the Cavemen, which cost the Dons one more chance to come back.
Nielsen finished the game 19-37 for 330 yards, with a touchdown and one interception.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," said Behm. "They are a very good, very physical, very fast football team. They moved the ball really well."
The win kept American Fork undefeated on the year at 3-0 while Spanish Fork fell to 2-1.
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