PLEASANT GROVE — With less than two minutes remaining, Pleasant Grove kicker Trevor Ward made a 29-yard field goal to put his team up by two points, 26-24, and suddenly the Vikings were positioned to pull off a huge upset against Lone Peak, the defending 5A champion.
But the Knights wouldn't go down easily.
Lone Peak advanced the ball to midfield and had first-and-10 with less than 50 seconds remaining.
Viking defensive back Kameron Wilkinson, however, sealed Pleasant Grove's upset victory with one gigantic play.
Wilkinson stepped in front of Lone Peak star receiver Talon Shumway and intercepted the ball inside the final minute, and Pleasant Grove emerged with a pulsating 26-24 victory in Region 4 Thursday.
"Lone Peak is the best team in the region right now," pointed out first-year Viking coach Les Hamilton afterward, "and I was not sure we were ready for them."
Ultimately, however, his guys found ways to get the job done.
"This was a great win for Pleasant Grove and one of the best ones in 20 years," he added. "I challenged the defense at halftime to step up (and) make plays on every down. I also challenged our quarterback and running back to do what was needed to get the win. We still have some work to do, but we'll enjoy this win tonight."
The game started out with a bad snap between the center and QB for Lone Peak, which rolled into the end zone and Pleasant Grove senior linebacker Dallin Hatch recovered it for a safety on the first play of the game. With 13 seconds gone in the game, PG was up 2-0 and Lone Peak was kicking off to the Vikings.
On Lone Peak's third posession, senior QB Braden Miles, on a keeper, snuck around the right side and zipped 24 yards to cross the end zone for six points and kicker Michael Smith added the PAT to put the Knights on the board and in the lead, 7-2.
The second quarter had Smith, for the Knights, score on a 29-yard field goal after an interception near the end of the first quarter. On the Viking's following possission, another Michael Anderson pass was picked off.
On the first play of Lone Peak's next possession, Miles hit Shumway in the flat and he raced 61 yards for another Knight touchdown with Smith adding the PAT. Lone Peak now had a 17-2 advantage and kept it that way through the end of the half.
The Vikings had the ball first in the second half, and on their first play from the 20-yard line, Anderson hit Hatch on a one-handed grab and he outraced everyone 80 yards down the line for his second score of the game with Ward adding the PAT.
With 11:46 remainng in the third quarter, PG was starting to work its way back into the game.
The Vikings kicked off to Lone Peak, but PG's special teams unit stopped the return on the 9-yard line. The Knights were penalized on their first play and then they fumbled the ball and the Vikings recovered it on the 4-yard line.
On the Viking's next play, the Knights were penalized again for a face-mask violation, moving the ball halfway to the end zone. On the next play, Viking running back Colton Babb took the hand off and crashed through the line, scoring his first and only TD of the game, bringing the score to 17-15, with Lone Peak still on top. A two-point conversion was attemped but was no good.
With 10:39 remaining in the quarter, the Knights punted three times and the Vikings punted, lost a fumble and ran out the clock on a long drive. This drive was completed with 7:57 remaining in the game, with a 34-yard pass from Anderson to Viking receiver Skyler Munson scoring the touchdown. Hatch held on the receiving end of a pass from Anderson on a two-point conversion for a score of Pleasant Grove 23, Lone Peak 17.
Miles was replaced by junior QB Baron Gajkowski, and he very quickly moved the Knights down field, aided by a pass-interference penalty on the Vikings, which put Lone Peak with a first-and-10 on the Viking 13-yard line. Gajkowski hit Dustin Watkins with a 13-yard touchdown pass and Smith added the PAT. The clock now stood at 6:06 remaining and the Knights were winning, 24-23.
The Vikings got the ball back and started working downfield. On this drive, Munson hauled in two separate passes that greatly enabled the Vikings to draw close enough for Ward to attempt a field goal.
On his first try, his kick went wide. However, the Knights were penalized for an offside violation. With the next attempt being 5 yards closer, Ward's kick went over and through the goal posts, making the score, PG 26, Lone Peak 24.
"I really wasn't nervous about my kicking, but I was never so glad to see a flag in my life," said Ward.
The only question was: Could Pleasant Grove keep Lone Peak from scoring in the final 1:39?
Wilkinson answered the question with his huge interception to preserve the upset.
Lone Peak now stands at 2-1 in Region 4 and 5-3 overall. Pleasant Grove has a record of 2-1 in Region 4 and 5-3 overall.
Lone Peak plays at Riverton next Wednesday and Pleasant Grove will play at American Fork on that same date. Both games start at 7 p.m.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports.