PLEASANT GROVE — When American Fork’s Zach Katoa scored the go-ahead touchdown with only 2:05 remaining in the game Friday, it seemed like Pleasant Grove’s playoff hopes were on life-support.
Viking quarterback Jeremiah Evans wasn’t worried, however.
Last month the senior guided Pleasant Grove to a come-from-behind win at Lehi when there was 1:14 left on the clock, so 2:05 seemed like an eternity. Sure enough, the Vikings didn’t even need that much time.
On just the third play of the drive, Evans dumped a screen pass to running back TJ Wind, who raced 52 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in a wild, back-and-forth 26-23 victory over rival American Fork.
“We tried it three other times, and we just didn’t get the right pass. That time he took his time and hit him and it was off to the races,” said Pleasant Grove coach Les Hamilton.
American Fork still had 1:02 remaining to try and answer PG’s touchdown, but the drive ended on an incomplete pass near midfield.
With the victory Pleasant Grove improves to 3-2 in Region 4, and it still has a chance to earn a share of the league title with a victory at Herriman next week. For American Fork, it finishes region play at 3-3 and won’t know its playoff fate until next week.
“This was a rivalry game. You could see that from both teams. That was a hard-hitting battle, and you have to take your hats off to AF. They battled and we were fortunate to get a big play down the stretch,” said Hamilton
Friday’s crazy finish was the latest chapter in the wild Region 4 campaign for both teams. No sequence was more bizarre than the double fumble on American Fork’s go-ahead drive.
Trailing 19-10 early in the fourth, the Cavemen battled back to cut the deficit to 19-17 on Hayden Johnson’s finger-tip 6-yard touchdown grab from Tanner Smith with 6:26 remaining. After regaining possession with 3:04 left, American Fork’s comeback bid seemed over when Johnson fumbled the ball after a first-down reception near midfield.
Miraculously though, Pleasant Grove’s Josh Marsh fumbled the ball himself after scooping it up and American Fork’s Jade Luker was right there to recover it.
Katoa scored on the very next play on a 25-yard pass from Smith to give American Fork the lead. Marsh and his defensive teammates came off the field completely dejected, but Hamilton reminded them there was plenty of time.
“Never, ever, ever give up, even if you’ve messed up. Good things will happen eventually,” said Hamilton.
Evans helped make it happen, as he finished the game completing 18 of 29 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re a dangerous team no matter what. If you’re up on us you better battle 'cause we’re going to come back. If you’re losing to us expect to lose 'cause we’re a clutch team,” said Evans.
Smith, his American Fork counterpart, was solid in his own right, completing 24 of 46 for 327 yards and three touchdowns, but Pleasant Grove intercepted him three times and Hamilton was extremely pleased with the defensive effort all night.
Both defenses were sharp in the first half with American Fork taking a 10-9 lead into the locker room at halftime after a botched rugby-style punt by Pleasant Grove allowed the Cavemen to kick a freebie field goal with four seconds remaining.
It was the start of many twists and turns in the intense rivalry game.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company