Tensions nearly boiled over at Skyline High Friday night as the American Fork Cavemen pulled out an intensely physical 24-20 win, spoiling the Eagles' homecoming celebration.
A disputed late-hit personal foul stymied a Skyline rally. After the game, the team suddenly exited the field without the customary handshake with their opponents.
"For a nonleague game, it was pretty physical, but well played," Cavemen coach Davis Knight said. "I'm just glad to get a win."
Up 24-14 in the second half, the Cavemen let their momentum slip as Skyline mounted a quick scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. After a failed extra point, the Eagles appeared to convert an onside kick, only to see the ball squirt out to a trio of waiting Cavemen with 2:26 left on the clock.
After two failed runs, American Fork faced a third-and-15 at its own 40. Quarterback Jordan Lusk hit Evan Wright for a short gain, and Wright was quickly ridden out of bounds by two Skyline defenders. The nearest referee threw a flag for a personal foul, sending Skyline coaches and players into furious disbelief.
Instead of a fourth-and-long, the drive continued and the Cavemen were able to run the clock down to a mere seven seconds. Skyline's Kevin Wagstaff found Algernon Brown, who eventually lost the ball and ended the game.
As soon as the final whistle sounded, a Skyline coach sent the team to the locker room without shaking the American Fork players' hands. Longtime Eagles coach Roger Dupaix immediately sought out Cavemen Coach Davis Knight to apologize.
"I'm not sure what happened," Knight said. "Roger came over to me and said if he'd known he would have called them back. We've had some great battles over the years."
The two teams combined for four four-yard touchdowns. Skyline used its traditional option game to move the ball with relative ease behind Algernon Brown, who finished with 118 yards on the night. Both Skyline touchdowns were short option keepers from Wagstaff.
American Fork employed more of a mix in its scheme, using timely runs from Nathaniel Olsen and Jorey Hanson and Evan Wright to set up passing lanes for Lusk, who finished with 138 passing yards.
Tied 14-14, the Cavemen took over in the second half. The defensive unit began to clog the running lanes, led by linebackers Mitch Harrison and Sam Kato. While Skyline's offense was stymied, Lusk found tight end Spencer Magleby for several big plays to keep two drives alive, eventually leading to a 17-point run and the 24-14 lead.
American Fork received a scare in the third when center Jaron Kruger left the game with what looked to be a knee injury. Kruger would return on the next offensive series.
Despite three scores on the ground, Wagstaff was unable to get much going through the air. The senior completed just four of 18 passes for a total of 58 yards.