Two failed runs in overtime meant one thing for Bountiful: The game would have to be won on Jordan Hayes’ arm.
The junior quarterback did not disappoint, finding Sam Merrill on a desperate third-and-long that put the Braves on the 1-yard line. From there, Jakob Hunt churned ahead for 1 yard to give Bountiful (5-1) the winning touchdown in a wild 30-27 road win at Highland (3-3) on Friday night.
It was just the kind of game befitting of this vibrant Region 6 rivalry.
“It was nerve-wracking, but I knew we had it in us,” Hayes said. “A couple times it was pretty tough, and it was getting to us, but we came out with the win.”
Hayes was called on more than usual to try to throw over Highland’s big defensive front, going 13 for 21 for 126 yards and a score. He was one of the Braves’ main weapons, but Hunt also went a long way to get the win, running for 142 yards and three scores on 29 carries.
Between Hayes picking on Highland’s patchwork secondary and Hunt stiff-arming every defender in sight, it was a strong night for the Braves offense.
But Bountiful did have to roll back from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter, as Highland’s run game rolled up big numbers. The offensive line plowed the way for Hunt on a 70-yard drive, and Hayes threw for a score to Tanner Redding. The Braves tied it at 24-24 when Hayes threw a short corner route to Ryan Curtis on a two-point conversion.
In overtime, Highland was stuffed on several runs, so the Rams settled for a 37-yard field goal by Mike Kerr. The Braves just went a little further.
“We knew they would try to take away our run, so we had to throw it a bit,” Bountiful coach Larry Wall said. “That’s as good a game of high school football as you’re going to see.”
The game did have the characteristics of a heavyweight matchup: tradition, physicality and big moments.
The Rams took the lead on big runs by Vili Sekona, their sturdy running back who scored on runs of 19 and 46 yards, totalling up 117 by night’s end. Austin Peterson was also a catalyst at quarterback, piling up more than 186 yards of total offense.
Sydney Lauti got a touchdown run just before halftime to give Highland a 17-13 lead, but Bountiful trimmed it to one point on a field goal of its own. Sekona scored on a big draw late in the third quarter to give the Rams the eight-point lead.
R Jakob Hunt leads the Braves with 142 yards and three touchdowns.
• Quarterback Jordan Hayes makes several key completions to seal the win.
• Highland running back Vili Sekona has 117 yards and two scores in the loss.