OREM Orem and Mountain View's regular-season finale in two weeks looks to be the game that decides who comes out of Region 7 in second place. First things first, though, as the Tigers had to take care of a gritty Payson team that sports a tough running back.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Orem keyed in on Leroy Unga and effectively took him out of the game in its 27-13 win on Thursday night.
"We had to get after Unga because he runs hard and plays hard," said Orem coach Robert Steele.
The Tigers' offense began and ended with running back Tucker Lamb in exploiting holes in Payson's defense.
Lamb's two short rushing TDs in the first half gave him the honors for the hard work in those scoring drives. He eventually ran wild in gaining 161 yards on 21 attempts to average more than 7 yards per carry.
Quarterback Josh Hamblin balanced the offense in his 8-for-12, 98-yard night.
Orem's drive for its second touchdown near halftime turned the momentum in its favor despite having the surge almost stopped in its tracks just as they approached Payson's 15-yard line. A pass interference call on the Lions' defensive backs on Hamblin's overthrow of an outstretched Steve Warner in the end zone gave Orem a second life.
Lamb's 2-yard spurt his second after another 2-yard TD in the first quarter gave the Tigers a 13-7 lead with under two minutes left until halftime.
"We were able to drive it, and that's something we haven't been able to do this year," Lamb said.
From that point on, Orem didn't look back.
For Payson's part, it played tough and was in the game for most of the first half. It took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter moving the ball well for the only time of night against Orem's starters. Unga's short run up the middle on fourth down while still inside Payson territory was a gutsy call, but it sparked the offense.
Hesston Parkin's deceptive 5-yard run sealed the score when he motioned in from out wide before the snap and found the hole to get in.
The Tigers finally broke out in the third quarter, Lamb's huge 38-yard run opened up the Orem's offense in what had been night in which it nickel-and-dimed its yards. Alek Cusick finished the drive off with a 1-yard rush that pushed the lead to 20-7.
Lance Chatterley spun in from a five-yard rush for Orem's last touchdown in the fourth.
Unga finally did some damage against the Tigers when his 25 or so-yard run set up his 1-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.