"I had to challenge my kids to step up and play their best game tonight because this Pleasant Grove team could make it to the quarter or semi finals in the State Playoffs this year. They are a very well prepared team with a great coaching staff," Bingham head coach Dave Peck said. His players did just that — they played their best game, scoring on their first two possessions.
After moving down the field in eight plays, senior quarterback Jantzen Bowles threw a 3-yard pass into the end zone to junior tight end Dalton Schultz for their first score, with senior kicker Jaron Maxfield adding the extra point. At 7:41 to go in the first quarter, Bingham was in the lead 7-0.
Pleasant Grove's first possession went six plays then out. The Miner's second possession went seven plays downfield, and on the eighth play, senior running back Tonga Manu ran the ball on the outside, six yards to the end zone, scoring his first TD of the game — Maxfield again added the extra point. With 2:10 remaining in the first quarter, Bingham was on top 14-0.
Pleasant Grove's second possession started from their own 20-yard line — lost a yard on the first play, but on the second play, Viking senior QB Michael Anderson hit his favorite target, senior wide receiver Skyler Munson down the sideline for an 81-yard touchdown and senior kicker Trevor Ward added the PAT. With 1:33 left in the first quarter, the Vikings were on the board 14-7.
Bingham got the ball back, but on their fifth play of the possession, and into the second quarter, Bowles pass was tipped at the line and intercepted by the Vikings. On the third play of this series, Anderson completed a pass over the middle to Munson who was immediately hit in the Miner's backfield. Munson broke away and scampered 36 yards, scoring his second touchdown of the game. Ward added the PAT, and with 9:58 remaining in the second quarter, the Vikings had caught the Miners and were even at 14-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Miner's Junior RB Scott Nichols caught the ball on the 13-yard line and headed west then south, dancing and weaving and jumping over Viking defenders until he crossed the goal line for a kick-off return touchdown — 87 yards from where he started. Again, Maxfield scored the extra point. Just 17 seconds after having been even with the Vikings, the Miners were again in the lead, 21-14.
The Miners kick off landed in the end zone and the Vikings started off on their own 20-yard line. On the second play, they fumbled the ball and the Miners recovered it. Two plays later, senior running back David Moala took the ball and ran six yards on a slant to paydirt. Maxfield added the PAT and with 8:45 left in the half. Bingham was starting to pull away with the score 28-14.
Viking head coach Les Hamilton said, "That fumble was the turning point in the game. Up until then, I felt we had the momentum to get control of the game and get back even again.
Coach Peck agreed: "That kick-off return was the game changer. It gave us the momentum and we just rolled from there."
And roll they did. After Pleasant Grove's second touchdown, Bingham scored five unanswered touchdowns with the final score 49-14.
The Vikings had 23 carries for 33 yards, and 10 of 20 passes for 192 yards, 225 total offense yards. Bingham had 43 carries 200 yards, and 17 of 19 passes for 248 yards, 448 total offensive yards.
Coach Hamilton wrapped it: "We surpassed what was expected, we wanted to be able to be in the play-offs, and we are, but you can't make that many mistakes against a quality team like Bingham because they will take full advantage every time."
With this win, Bingham goes to second place in Region 4. Lone Peak beat Lehi and earns the No. 1 spot in the Region having already beat Bingham. Riverton goes to third place and Pleasant Grove stands in fourth place.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports.