COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Brighton wanted to integrate competition back into the storied rivalry with Alta. The Bengals knew how quickly the 5-0 start this season could be washed away.
Last year, after similarly starting with five consecutive wins, Brighton fell to Alta by double digits.
Not this time. Not this team.
With a 10-point lead with 7:47 left on the clock, the Bengals lined up behind arguably the best offensive line in the state and pounded. They had one first down after another as the time slowly ticked toward zeros. Finally, Brighton’s resurgence back into championship contenders had come to fruition.
For the first time since 2004, Brighton improved to 6-0 with a 38-28 win at home Friday night.
“Our kids are playing hard and with a lot of confidence and passion right now. They were excited about it all week, to play Alta, so it’s a good boost for the community,” Brighton coach Ryan Bullet said. “Kids played extremely hard and we were able to eek out the win there at the end. We didn’t play the smartest tonight, but we came out on the right side.”
Brighton with three 3-year starters on the offensive front and the top-rated recruit for the Class of 2015, Osa Masina, understood Alta’s weakness at the line of scrimmage. Therefore, with the safety blanket, it established the threat through the air in the opening series.
Quarterback Robbie Hutchins, who finished 8 of 16 for 143 yards, completed two quick slants on the first drive. “That quick slant route,” Masina said, “we definitely took advantage of that the first half — completing four or five easy slant routes.” Isaiah Kaufusi was the benefactor on the slant on a 74-yard strike in the first quarter.
The added space ultimately allowed Masina to break loose, untouched for a 31-yard touchdown on his first carry.
He wasn’t remotely finished.
Before prematurely exiting the game after getting his wind knocked out, Masina rushed for 253 yards on 23 carries. Alta has now been outgained 775-79 on the ground in its three losses this season.
“That was the whole game,” Masina said. “We weren’t changing schemes or anything. Our whole goal is to establish our run game this year, and first play of the game — big, huge hole. The offensive line played great the whole night. I give credit to the line, and my fullback, Josh Thompson, for leading it up.”
He added touchdown runs of 63, 20 and 76 yards. The scores extended Brighton’s lead to 14-0; 31-21 and 38-21 with 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
“They’re trying to take away our dive, so we went with the next thing,” Bullet said. “We said, ‘OK, then try and stop our best player then.’ ”
Playing from behind, Alta (2-3) relied heavily on its passing game. Quarterback Chipper Lucero tallied 191 yards on 19 of 30 from the field with one touchdown and two interceptions. Nate Teahan led the Hawks with six receptions for 75 yards along with a 34-yard score on a well-camouflaged choice route.
The Hawks, trailing by 10, strung together an 11-play drive on the opening possession of the first half. Staring at a 4th-and-1, they elected to convert the first down. Strangely, Lucero lined up from shotgun and after the blanketed coverage, attempted to pick up the first with his feet, but fell inches short.
The decision to forgo the field goal eventually returned to haunt Alta after the long-winded drive by Brighton. With only 58 seconds to work with, it faced a two-possession hole rather than a 7-point deficit.
“They did a good job,” Bullet said of his team. “They were hungry; a couple kids got some cramps. The thing about tonight was it was nice to compete against Alta. Our kids were able to hang in there and put the thing out of reach.”
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