COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Uaea Masina reverted to an old little-league football trick to keep the Brighton Bengals in contention for the 5A playoffs.
Early in the third quarter, Masina ripped the ball away from the West Jordan running back near the end of a nice run. He ran it back to set up a touchdown that lifted Brighton to a tough 20-14 Region 3 win Friday over the Jaguars.
"All game long, (the Jaguars) kept running away from me, and my brother (Osa Masina)," he said. "I don't think he saw me, and I just ripped it away. I did that a lot in little league."
The turnover led to a 2-yard run by Masina that extended Brighton's 10-7 halftime lead. The Bengals eventually took a 20-7 advantage and that proved important as West Jordan rallied and almost ruined Brighton's senior night activities.
"That's a good team," Brighton coach Ryan Bullett said of the Jaguars. "They came in 2-0 and we were 0-2 (in region). They knew that if they win this, they're in the playoffs. They played Bingham and Hurricane, and those guys didn't score much on them. They play tough."
In the end, though, Brighton ended up being the tougher team. Masina rushed 20 times for 84 yards and scored twice on offense. Freshman quarterback Drew Jensen added 79 yards on 11 carries and completed 4 of 6 passes for 115 yards.
"We never had the feeling that we were going to lose this game," Masina said. "The last two weeks, we lost the fourth quarter and we didn't want to see that happen tonight."
What saved the Bengals is they didn't commit a turnover and improved their record to 6-2 overall and 1-2 in region. With two games remaining — at Jordan and then Copper Hills — Brighton must win at least one game to reach the playoffs, then the Bengals can worry about the first-round matchup from a representative from Region 4.
West Jordan dropped to 2-5 overall, but still 2-1 in region. The Jaguars still have a good chance to make the postseason, but finish the year against powers Alta and Jordan.
Bullett acknowledged that Masina's defensive play was the difference-maker. Later, the Bengals extended the margin on a 22-yard field by goal by Hunter Dall, his second of the night.
Those plays were important because the Jaguars rallied behind the hard-nosed running of Kaden Maddox, who had 51 yards on 13 carries, and a well-executed on-sides kick by Brandon Naylor. The recovery had had Brighton fans on edge until Brady McCloyn broke up a pair of passes by Jags quarterback Colton Michaelsen.
West Jordan had just 190 total yards, but seemed to make the most of them. The Jags also were hurt when they failed twice to score deep in Brighton territory. In the first quarter, they were stopped on downs at the Bengal 3-yard line, and then Alec McArdle ended another drive with a one-handed interception in the end zone.