We did what we needed, and we're right where we need to be —Brighton coach Ryan Bullett

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Two teams known for their physical play pushed each other around Friday night. By the time it was over, both lines were battered and bruised.

But what stood out is that Brighton made big plays when it needed to; Cottonwood didn’t.

Those critical plays were obvious to Brighton’s homecoming crowd when they happened, and they ended up being the difference in the Bengals’ 31-3 rout.

“It seemed closer than that,” said Brighton coach Ryan Bullett, whose team improved to 4-0 and remains one of just four 5A teams still undefeated. “We did what we needed, and we’re right where we need to be.”

With Utah coach Kyle Whittingham watching in the stands, Osa Masina punished Cottonwood (1-3) with 114 rushing yards. He carried the ball just seven times, but the high-stepping junior scored two touchdowns and came within a tackler or two of perhaps two more.

Josh Thompson added 70 yards and a couple of more scores, including a 25-yarder that staked the Bengals to a 7-0 lead.

The game’s biggest play took place late in the second quarter. After Cottonwood’s Jose Becerra nailed a 24-yard field goal and Masina had his first touchdown on a 1-yard run, quarterback Tevita Garber guided the Colts downfield.

With the clock winding down toward halftime, Garber fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-1 play at the Brighton 3-yard line. The Bengals relished the momentum they gained as they went into the locker room moments later, and dominated afterward.

“We didn’t execute,” said Cottonwood coach Greg Croshaw. “We ran the ball really well, except when it counted. I thought we were in a position to do what we wanted for a while.”

“That play was huge,” Bullett agreed.

The Bengals stopped Cottonwood immediately to start the third quarter, and Masina, Thompson and quarterback Andrew Jensen guided Brighton to a quick score a few minutes later.

Then, when Cottonwood inexplicably misfired on a low-percentage pass play down the sideline on fourth down, the Bengals roared down the field and scored again.

It left Cottonwood fans mumbling about what might have been. The Colts were deflated and down 28-3. Despite the obvious athleticism of Garber and running back Malu Hosea, Cottonwood had just 40 yards in the second half and never threatened.

Hosea was a workhorse, rushing 31 times for 121 yards. As a team, Cottonwood outgained Brighton 254-228 but couldn’t get the yards when it counted.

Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.