Offensively we did exactly what we needed to do out here tonight, we came out and exploded. —Alta coach Alema Te'o
SANDY — With a run of 21 consecutive seasons making the playoffs, Alta coach Alema Te’o and his Hawks could finally breathe a sigh of relief as Alta bounced Brighton from the playoffs with a 56-38 road win Wednesday night.
“Offensively we did exactly what we needed to do out here tonight, we came out and exploded,” Te’o said. “Our starting defensive guys, I’m proud of those guys and their efforts, especially in the first half.”
The win sends Alta to the 5A playoffs where Te’o said his team would likely play Roy.
Dana said the win was just what Alta needed after a tough loss last week.
“It means everything,” Dana said. “We suffered a tough loss at Corner Canyon and we needed to come out here to get a good seed in the playoffs so this is just what we needed.”
Alta, fueled by Dana completing passes of 23 and 24 yards, took its opening drive 80 yards in seven plays with Zach Engstrom scoring on a 13-yard run.
After an exchange of possessions, the Bengals coughed up the football. After Alta recovered the loose ball, the Hawks struck on their first play when Donovan Spillers hauled in a 28-yard strike from Dana to give the visitors a 14-0 lead.
Brighton got on the board early in the second period with a 37-yard field goal from Justen Smith.
With the lead cut to 14-3 Alta struck again as Dana delivered a strike to Engstrom. The senior caught the ball over the middle and ran untouched for a 50-yard score and a 21-3 lead.
The Bengals looked done after a three-and-out punt gave the ball right back to Alta. But the Hawks fumbled and Bengal Sione Angilau recovered and took it back to the Hawks 11-yard line. Two plays later Evona Hall scored on a 3-yard run to cut the deficit to 21-10.
And the Bengals' defense wasn’t done. On Alta’s next possession, Dana was intercepted by Brooks Johnson, who returned the ball to the Hawks' 26. Two plays later, Brighton quarterback Alexander Zettler scored on a 20-yard keeper as Brighton 21-17.
Fueled by back-to-back sacks from Singi Pututau the Hawks defense stiffened while Dana hit Spillers with two, 25-yard touchdown passes that capped the first-half with Alta leading 35-17.
“Engstrom and I have played every single year of football since we were eight and Donovan is a transfer who is always open and making plays,” Dana said. “Singi Pututau is my center, he’s a beast and we love having him on the team.”
Spillers caught his fourth touchdown pass from Dana, early in the third, a 40-yarder, as Alta opened their biggest lead at 42-17.
While Brighton traded touchdowns with Alta in the second half, Bengals quarterback, Alexander Zettler recorded three rushing touchdowns to keep Brighton in the game.
For Te’o, the health of his team going forward was paramount as the Hawks rested some defensive starters in the second half. Te’o thinks Region 7’s strength of schedule has his team ready for the postseason.
“I thought we did a lot of good things and we had some mistakes,” Te’o said. “We have a long haul ahead of us. We play in the toughest 5A region out here and I can’t wait to get to the next round.”
Brighton finishes the year 1-4, 5-5.