PLEASANT GROVE — A lot was on the line with Bingham traveling to take on an upstart Pleasant Grove team during the final night of region play. Both teams came in tied for first in Region 4 and critical seeding in the state playoffs at stake.
With a win, Pleasant Grove would secure a No. 1 seed, but it was Bingham that proved the victor and secured itself a No. 2 seed with a convincing 49-14 win. Bingham used a punishing ground attack and timely throws from quarterback Jantzen Bowles to overwhelm the Vikings.
“I felt that this needed to be a statement game and that we needed to go out on the road and beat a good team and (Pleasant Grove) is a good team,” said Bingham coach Dave Peck. “I told them all week that (Pleasant Grove) was a semifinal or quarterfinal quality team and that if we wanted to reach the state finals that we needed to prove that we are. I love the leadership on this team, and I‘m excited about the playoff run.”
Bingham got off to a very quick start — scoring two touchdowns on its first two drives — and seemed in total control until Pleasant Grove responded. Wide receiver Skyler Munson hauled in consecutive touchdown passes of 81 and 36 yards from Michael Anderson to tie the score at 14-14 shortly after the start of the second quarter.
Just the moment the Vikings seemed to snatch away momentum, Scott Nichols snatched it right back for the Miners with an electrifying 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“That was a huge play,” said Peck. “They come out and get a stop there with the score tied and it’s a totally different ballgame, but it didn’t happen.”
David Moala capped off the first-half scoring with a six-yard touchdown run to put the Miners up 28-14 at intermission.
Despite its 264 total yards of offense and 28 points in the first half, it could have been more as Bingham was flagged nine times for 69 yards and had two costly turnovers.
“There were a lot of penalties, but I think sometimes our guys are just amped up and ready to go,” said Peck. “Sometimes you have penalties and things happen, but I’ll take the final score.”
The second half was all Bingham. Hayden Weichers caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Bowles to start the second-half scoring, and Tonga Manu finished it off with a 31-yard touchdown run to give Bingham a 49-14 lead, which proved to be the final.
“I think we’re playing our best ball,” said Peck. “We had two shutouts coming into this game, and to go on the road in such a big game — this game was for co-region camps, and I feel really good where we’re at. I like our chances moving on.”
The game was also a chance for Peck to match coaching stints with his old rival at Alta, Les Hamilton. This is Hamilton’s first year coaching at Pleasant Grove following a very successful stint at Alta. Together, Peck and Hamilton can well be considered the two most accomplished prep football coaches in the state.
“It was kind of weird seeing him in blue,” said Peck, referring to the Pleasant Grove school colors that match Bingham’s. “I told him that ‘you know what, you look good in blue after all those years in red and black.’ ”
With the win, Bingham will take on the No. 3 seed from Region 3, which is yet to be determined. With the loss, Pleasant Grove will take on No. 1-ranked Jordan in the first round of the state playoffs.
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