PLEASANT GROVE — Bingham’s bruising preseason schedule was created to help prepare the Miners for Region 4 play.
It didn’t take long Friday night for the Miners to find out why.
Jared Greenfield returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, and Bingham’s offense converted an 80-yard, 17-play drive in the fourth quarter when it desperately needed a score and the Miners held on to beat Pleasant Grove 35-32 in the region opener for both teams.
“(It was one of those games that) makes you know you’re alive,” said Miners coach John Lambourne, whose team improved to 5-0. “We’re lucky to get out of here with a win. They gave us all we could handle.”
Bingham led the entire game, but had to withstand a 350-yard passing night from the Vikings’ Jake Jensen, including an 80-yarder to Jackson Hill with 3:45 left in the game and a 17-yarder to Easton Fowler with 1:26 remaining. Pleasant Grove also had the ball at Bingham’s 29-yard line when Jensen was sacked to end the game.
“Great game. All you could ask for,” said Pleasant Grove coach Mark Wootton. “You have to play near-perfect to beat those guys and we had too many mistakes. We had our chances.”
No Utah team has scored that many points on Bingham since Jordan fell to the Miners 58-40 in 2016, and Bingham hasn’t lost an in-state game since 2015. This one was close, thanks to the efforts of Jensen, running back Dayne Christiansen (three touchdowns) and a fine defensive effort from Maika Tauteoli.
Bingham reciprocated with its usual dose of great depth, and timely plays by Greenfield. Besides the kickoff return, which put Bingham ahead 14-7 in the first quarter, he blocked an extra point and tipped away a two-point conversion pass. Together, those points were the difference.
“He’s a great athlete and we needed guys like him to step up and make plays,” said Lambourne. “I know people expect us to win because of our past, but this is 2018 and it’s a different team and we’re still finding out what kind of team we are.”3 comments on this story
Offensively, Bingham relied on the running of Evona Hall, who rushed for nearly 100 yards and scored three times, and Andrew Wimmer, who had 84 yards and one score. After Pleasant Grove scored to make it 28-26 with 11:47 left, Greenfield prevented the tie and then Hall, Wimmer and quarterback Peyton Jones combined to move the ball 80 yards on 17 plays that took almost eight minutes off the clock and gave the Miners a seemingly insurmountable nine-point lead.
Jensen, however, connected on 7 of 10 passes to cut the margin to 35-32 and Junior Tafuna blocked the Vikings’ extra-point try. After forcing a three-and-out, Pleasant Grove got the ball back with 25 seconds remaining, but ran out of time just barely outside of field-goal range and fell to 3-2 overall.