Our defense had some key stops that really kept us in the game and gave us momentum. —Spanish Fork coach Kirk Chambers

SPANISH FORK — In what was largely considered the most competitive first-round matchup in the 3A tournament, Spanish Fork came out on top of Pine View, 26-21, Friday.

The Dons overcame a slow start on offense and some early turnovers to secure the win — proving it's not so much how you start a game, but how you finish.

It also helped to have a gutsy defense, which is what the Dons had.

When the offense came out sputtering early, the defense stepped up and continued to make plays at key times the rest of the way to enable Spanish Fork to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

"Our defense had some key stops that really kept us in the game and gave us momentum," said Spanish Fork coach Kirk Chambers. "The offense came around and it was really a complete effort. We needed a complete effort to beat a very tough Pine View team."

One of the defensive standouts was Colton Olson, who accounted for two key interceptions, including a pick-six midway through the first quarter that gave Spanish Fork an early 7-0 lead.

Pine View then took control from that point, mounting consecutive scoring drives of 66 and 76 yards to take a 14-7 lead. Running back Prentiss Miller led the way on both scoring drives and finished the half with 24 rushes for 104 yards. Miller was the beneficiary of a huge Panther offensive front that features Arizona-commit Logan Stott at center.

"Those offensive linemen are probably the best our guys will ever face," said Chambers. "It's not easy going against big and talented guys like that, but the credit goes to our defensive line coach who teaches those guys to play disciplined."

Spanish Fork's offense did wake up late in the first half using the cousin connection of quarterback Jason Money and receiver Cameron Money to tie the game at 14-14 entering the half.

The Dons opened the scoring in the second half with an 11-play drive to put the ball into the end zone. Money settled down and completed all five of his passes for 43 yards with running back Braxton Argyle capping it off with a 10-yard touchdown run.

A short time later Argyle broke through the Panther defense for a touchdown run of 45 yards to put the Dons up 26-14 as the third quarter came to a close.

"We all just said, 'No regrets' and just played our hearts out in the second half," said Olson. "We had the attitude that our season won't end tonight and that we're going all the way."

Pine View did manage a touchdown on a 1-yard run from Miller with just over five minutes remaining to cut the deficit to 26-21, but it proved to be its last.

"This was not an easy first-round game for us, but our guys came together and I'm so proud of them because it was a complete team effort," said Chambers. "We needed everyone to play their best games to beat this Pine View team and I feel we got that tonight."

With the win Spanish Fork advances to the second round where it will take on Morgan.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney