PLEASANT GROVE The Region 4 game between the Pleasant Grove Vikings and the Spanish Fork Dons proved to be a dogfight to the end on a windy Wednesday night at Viking Stadium.
A back-and-forth battle ended with the Vikings outdueling the Dons 23-20 in a game pivotal to Pleasant Grove's playoff future.
Placekicker Josue Meza drilled a 37-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to lift the Vikings, earning them home-field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs.
"I'm just ecstatic," said Vikings head coach Dale Sampson. "It's one of those great football games. I don't know of any closer than that."
Tied 20-20 with less than three minutes in the game, Viking defender Joey Owens intercepted a deflected tip and returned it to midfield, setting up Pleasant Grove's game-winning drive.
The Dons gave it one last try after the Viking score but had a 41-yard field goal attempt blocked as time expired.
"That's what we've lived on all year is defense, and they came through tonight," Sampson said.
Pleasant Grove took charge in the third quarter, using a strong breeze at their back and a balanced offense to maul out a time-eating drive that ended with a Sean Stevenson 4-yard plunge into the end zone. It gave the Vikings their first lead at 17-13 heading into the final quarter. Chalk one up for the offensive line.
"They (the offensive line) are the heart and soul of our team. I'm so proud of them," said Sampson. "They stepped up when we had to play ball control."
Playing without star runner LeSean Wilcox, the Vikings relied heavily on the running tandem of Stevenson and quarterback Jared Keele. Wilcox suffered an ankle sprain during last week's game against Lone Peak but should be full strength come playoff time.
Stevenson ended with two rushing touchdowns.
"Sean's our utility guy," said Sampson. "He's just a great kid and gave it everything he's got."
Earning home-field advantage with a win was Pleasant Grove's main focus heading into the game against the Dons, and Sampson noted just how important that is.
"It means everything," he said. "We feel like we've got a home advantage with our new field and community and school. We're grateful to be at home."
The Vikings will take on American Fork for the Region 4 championship next Friday.