HIGHLAND — Lone Peak used a stellar defensive play and a great kicking effort to defeat region-foe Riverton 17-13 on Wednesday.
The Knight defensive effort came on the heels of losing their second defensive coordinator this season just after last week's game. Fortunately for coach Tony McGeary, a former BYU great and Outland Trophy winner just happened to be available.
"Me and Jason (Buck) got back to when we played together at Ricks College," McGeary said following the game. "It's been tough for our kids to have so many coaching changes, but fortunately Jason was able to step up and they all did a great job tonight."
Riverton's wing-T offense can be a chore to defend, but Lone Peak came out ready for the challenge — holding the Silverwolves to consecutive three-and-outs in the first quarter. The offense clicked early — accounting for a 10-play, 94-yard scoring drive on its second possession that was capped off with Baron Gajkowski hitting Zach Burhley with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Riverton threatened on its next possession, but was stunted on a fourth-and-one attempt at midfield. Linebacker Spencer Reinstein snuffed out the conversion attempt — leaving the offense in prime scoring possession. The Knight offense failed to capitalize on the field possession, however, and quickly turned the ball back over to the Silverwolves at their own 40-yard line following a muffed punt.
Riverton cashed in the opportunity with a 2-yard scoring run by Gavin Sargent — tying up the game at 7-7 with 6:28 remaining.
The Knights finished out the half on a high note with Gajkowski finding Zachary Mortensen in the back of the end zone on a fourth-and-goal situation from the one-yard line. The score put the Knights up 14-7 at intermission.
The second half was largely a defensive struggle save for an 86-yard touchdown run from Riverton's Brayden Mahoney at the 5:49 mark of the third quarter. The extra point was missed, however, securing Lone Peak's lead at 14-13.
After a failed onsides kick, Lone Peak received the ball at midfield, but was unable to advance the ball past Riverton's 40 yard line. It was then that McGeary made the unusual decision to attempt a 58-yard field goal.
"We took the wind in the second half and decided that if we had a chance to (kick a long field goal) that we'd do it," McGeary said.
Kicker Michael Smith calmly booted through the attempt with yards to spare — giving Lone Peak a 17-13 lead which proved to be the final.
"The kids just battled hard and we knew we're still in the battle for the region championship," McGeary said. "It's a great story for us with how our defensive players respond time and again with no matter what they're up against. I couldn't be prouder of them and of our team, but we need to keep this thing going. A region championship is our goal and we took a big step toward that tonight against a very good Riverton team."
With the win, Lone Peak moves to 6-3 on the year and 3-1 in region play. It will next take on Lehi to finish out the regular season. Riverton drops to 5-4 overall and 2-2 in region play and will finish out against American Fork.