American Fork • The middle of the pack may not sound all that glamorous, but the Lehi football team was sure happy to be part of it after the final gun sounded Wednesday.
Not only did a 31-21 victory over American Fork put the Pioneers back in the thick of things in Region 4, it also marked the first win over the Cavemen in more than 10 years.
"It's been since 2002 since we beat AF, so it's a huge win and a huge step for our program," said Lehi running back Caden Calton, who rushed for 167 yards in the victory.
American Fork (5-3, 3-2 in Region 4) took an early 14-0 lead after getting a short field to work with for its first two possessions. Following a 48-yard drive, the Cavemen went up 7-0 after a quarterback sneak from Tanner Smith three minutes into the game.
After a Lehi (5-3, 2-2) pass was intercepted deep in its own territory, the home team tacked on another TD on a 1-yard plunge by Zach Katoa.
The visiting Pioneers however did put up some points before intermission thanks to a 36-yard field goal by Hayden Hunt, and the Lehi defense stiffened when American Fork advanced as far as the 3-yard line less than a minute before half.
"That was huge. The defense took it upon themselves after we had sort of a track meet last week," said Lehi coach David Hastings, whose team fell 71-50 to Riverton in Week 7. "They wanted to show that they can play defense and they are a good defense."
A resurgent Lehi offense took command in the third quarter. The visitors were in control with a 31-14 advantage by the end of the period.
An interception set up the first Lehi touchdown a 4-yard run by Derek Hastings.
Then Calton went to work. The Pioneers got the ball at their own 35 with 7:30 left in the third, and it took Calton two plays to run the ball to the Cavemen 5. Lehi went up 17-14 on a 2-yard run by Calton two plays later.
The junior back scored on a 15-yard rush before Hastings added a 7-yard TD run with 20 seconds left in the third.
"Our offense has performed all year, and we knew we could get things going and going," coach Hastings said. "Our region is so balanced. Once you think someone's on top, they go and get knocked off. Now that puts us at .500 in the region, but there's others that are right there in the middle too. There's a kind of gridlock and we need to see where we're at."