OREM After suffering through last season's 4A state championship game debacle, the Pine View Panthers (0-0, 1-0) wasted no time in exacting revenge in their 28-6 win over Mountain View (0-0, 0-1) in the season opener.
Panther kick returner Tanner Wood rudely greeted the Bruins with a 95-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff. Shifting his way to the sideline, he blew past the Bruins' defense on his way to paydirt.
What looked to be a blowout in the making remained close through the first half thanks to Mountain View's power backs, Anthony Heimuli and TJ Mounga. Heimuli paced the Bruins' offense, carrying the ball and several Panther defenders as Mountain View mounted several time-killing drives, but only one resulted in a touchdown when quarterback Nate Stroshine scampered in on a 1-yard keeper.
After a fumble by Pine View set the Bruins up inside Panther territory, defensive back Ty Nelson picked off a Stroshine pass that not only kept Mountain View out of the end zone, but set the Panthers up to keep the lead and take control of the game for good. Several plays later, Panther quarterback Justin Ence capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run going nearly untouched.
"We've just got to execute," said Pine View coach Ray Hosner. "I'm proud of our kids and the journey they have made since last year."
Leading 14-6, the Panthers came out in the second half and put together a statement drive that sapped the Bruins of any momentum they thought they had. Pine View running back Villiami Hafoka powered his way through the defense, setting up Ence for another short touchdown run to extend the lead to 21-6.
"He's (Hafoka) one of the best running backs I've ever seen," Ence said. "And the offensive line did a heck of a job."
Pine View put the game out of reach for good after a Bruin fumble gave the Panthers a short field midway through the fourth quarter, Ence, who scored three touchdowns on the night while amassing 144 yards on the ground, broke through the line on a 7-yard scoring dash.
With Heimuli and Mounga both out with injuries late in the game the Bruins went through the air to put together one last drive into the red zone, but as was the case all night long the Panther defense stepped up to shut down Mountain View in the second half.