Pleasant Grove has not enjoyed a 5-0 start since 2009 and Friday's win was its 13th straight victory over Lehi. But, this game was not an easy win.
The Vikings scored first on a three yard rush by senior running back TJ Wind at the 5:52 mark in the first quarter, but missed the PAT. Pleasant Grove got the ball back just before the end of the first period, but missed a field goal four plays into the second quarter. At the 7:17 mark, Lehi's senior kicker Hayden Hunt kicked a 43 yard field goal, cutting the Viking lead in half, 6-3.
Trying to fire up the Viking offense, coach Les Hamilton again went to Wind and with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter the strategy paid off. On his fourth effort, Wind crossed the goal line with several Pioneer defenders on his back and around his feet. Viking senior kicker Cesar Madrigal hit the PAT and Pleasant Grove was up 13-3.
Lehi forced a turnover late in the second quarter but needed to move quickly to avoid going into the locker room at halftime down by 10. Senior quarterback Derek Beeston hit senior wide receiver Austin Whetzel along the sideline and Whetzel out-ran everyone on his way to a 45-yard passing touchdown with .01 seconds remaining. The Pioneers added the PAT to make it 13-10.
Pleasant Grove moved quickly to open the second half. Four plays into the new quarter, Wind took the ball and pounded his way for his third touchdown of the game on an 8 yard romp at the 11:13 mark. The PAT was good and the Vikings led 20-10.
Lehi found some momentum of its own in the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns. The Pioneers scored at the 6:47 mark and the 4:15 mark, with both touchdowns coming on passes — a 38 yard strike from Beeston to junior running back Ryan Absher and a 19-yarder from Beeston to Whetzel. Lehi missed both PATs, however, and that would come back to haunt the Pioneers. At the end of the third quarter, Lehi was leading 22-20 heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Pioneers had the ball to open the fourth quarter and at the 10:31 mark, junior running back Caden Calton scooted around the end went into the end zone for a 1-yard score. The PAT went wide — the third straight missed kick — but Lehi led 28-20.
The Vikings responded quickly, with running back Wind doing most of the work. Pleasant Grove need less than two minutes to march down the field with Wind taking the ball over the goal line on an 8-yard run at the 8:39 mark, his fourth touchdown of the evening. Quarterback Jeremiah Evans found tight end Tyler Bott in the end zone for the two-point conversion to tie the score.
With time running down and the teams tied up at 28-28, the players and the fans could feel the pressure mounting
Lehi took the kickoff and did a good job of controlling the ball for three minutes using an effective mix of passing and rushing, scoring on a Beeston to Absher 16-yard pass. The PAT failed and with 5:39 left to play, Lehi held the lead, 34-28.
Pleasant Grove took possession at it's 20 yard line after the kickoff sailed into the end zone for a touchback. The Vikings moved the ball up field, but turned possession back to Lehi when a fourth down pass fell incomplete with under a minute-and-a-half to play.
The Viking defense rose to the challenge, backing Lehi up against its own end zone. With 1:14 to play, the Vikings chased Beeston out of the end zone for a safety, cutting Lehi's lead to four at 34-30 and forcing the Pioneers to kickoff from its own 20 yard line.
Pleasant Grove's special teams players (which had been held in check as each of the previous Lehi kickoffs has sailed into the end zone for touchbacks) had a return play ready and executed it well. With no time outs left, and facing a third and 9 situation, Evans found sophomore wide receiver Malik Overstreet in the end zone with an 11 yard bullet for the go ahead score with 27 seconds remaining. The PAT was good the Vikings led 37-34. Pleasant Grove's defense stymied the Pioneer offense as the game ended.
With four touchdowns on the night, Wind explained, "It was coach Hamilton in my head and he would not let me quit moving my feet. He got to me at the first of the week and said it was time I showed what I could do." Wind continued, "I met my goals, the offensive line blocked great for me and I did it for my team and my coaches."
Hamilton supported that explanation. "Wind is a great kid, we have a love/hate relationship. He is one of the hardest runners in the league, he works hard, he doesn't quit." On the night, Wind had 18 carries for 245 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Hamilton also had praise for quarterback Evans. "How about that kid! He comes to PG, in a new home, makes new friends, gets in here on the team and gains the support of his teammates and coaches and runs the team so well. He is an impressive kid."
As a team, the Vikings had 32 carries for 211 yards and completed 19 of 34 passes for 313 yards for 524 yards of total offense. The Pioneers had 77 yards rushing on 41 carries and completed 18 of 32 passes for 365 yards for 442 yards of total offense.
Lehi will be at home against Spanish Fork next week while Pleasant Grove will play at home against Riverton. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports for Deseret Connect.
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