SALT LAKE CITY — Alta versus Bingham: Would you expect anything other than a down-to-the-wire, can't-sit-down-too-nervous kind of game?
Not a chance.
Once again the 5A rivals delivered exactly what more than 15,000 fans who came to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday night expected.
An absolute thriller.
The Miners had just scored with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter after an 10-play, 81-yard drive — all rushes — culminated with a 2-yard dive from Tonga Manu to cut the Hawks' lead 17-16.
However, after a mishandled snap forced an unexpected two-point conversion attempt, Alta's Bridger Pennington jumped the lofted pass to insure the one-point victory.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak to the Miners.
With the score resting at 3-3 in the second quarter, Alta enjoyed its first lead of the game when junior Mack Richards dashed up the middle for a touchdown from 6 yards out.
The Hawks, looking like "Fed-Ex" — delivering through the air and on the ground — were extremely effective on deceiving the Bingham onslaught.
Junior quarterback Chipper Lucero finished 13-of-25 for 155 yards. Harrison Handley hauled in five receptions for 63 yards, whereas Max Broman finished with 102 yards on 12 carries along with Richards' 63 yards on three carries.
Alta had an opportunity to extend the lead to two scores late in the second quarter. But as Lucero was forced out of the pocket, he reluctantly threw across his shoulder into the welcoming hands of Bingham's Koa Wilson, who had blanketed Handley in man coverage.
The Miners quickly embarked on 7-play drive with 1:21 left in the half. On third down, quarterback Coleman Stout hit Hayden Weichers, who took the slant 46 yards to the Alta 1-yard line. On the ensuing play, Jantzen Bowles scored to even things at 10-10.
With both teams struggling offensively to open the second half, it was Alta's defense that produced the defining play.
The Miners, backed up to their own 4-yard line, failed to contain a quick surge by the Hawks' defensive front. As Stout rolled out of the pocket, Brock Davies swatted the pigskin from his paws, which Broman ultimately corralled to regain the 17-10 lead.
The Hawks, who were criticized in the opening week for questionable play-calling, won the chess match in the waning moments.
After Bingham's unsuccessful onside kick with 3:32 remaining, the Hawks milked the clock perfectly. On 4th-and-seven, Lucero hooked up with Handley for the game-deciding first down.
On the following play, rather than scoring, Lucero stayed put at the 1-yard line — keeping the clock breathing as the Miners watched helplessly without any timeouts remaining.
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