Pleasant Grove • Back and forth they went, neighboring rivals fighting for their playoff lives.
They traded leads, traded big plays, traded turnovers. In the end, Pleasant Grove won’t trade the result.
Senior T.J. Wind caught a swing pass from Jeremiah Evans and shot down the left sideline 52 yards to the end zone for the game-winning score with 1:02 to play in the Vikings’ 26-23 Region 4 victory against American Fork.
"I saw daylight," Wind said of the winning play. "I knew they had a corner on the right side who was quick, so I had to sprint. My adrenaline was pumping and all I could see was the daylight and the W, and I got in there and I got it."
Pleasant Grove (7-2, 3-2) clinched a playoff berth and has a chance to win the region with a victory next week against first-place Herriman.
The Cavemen (5-4, 3-3) now need help in order to make the postseason, after surrendering the lead they took on Tanner Smith’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Zach Katoa with 1:55 to play.
Earlier on that scoring drive, Pleasant Grove forced a fumble after a fourth-down pass, but the return was fumbled and recovered by AF’s Jade Luker.
"Double fumbles, interceptions, long touchdowns …" Vikings coach Les Hamilton said, after a game that featured six lead changes. "You know, it was a rivalry game and it was a hard-hitting battle. We were fortunate to get a big play down the stretch."
Evans, who transferred from American Fork in the summer, threw a 12-yard TD pass to Malik Overstreet to start the scoring in the wild fourth quarter.
Smith, who threw three interceptions, answered with a 6-yard scoring pass to Hayden Johnson.
A total of 27 points were scored in the final 12 minutes after the teams combined for 22 points in the first three quarters.
But his fourth-down pass with 14.9 seconds to play fell to the turf incomplete to end the Cavemen’s final drive. American Fork was hurt by five turnovers and three big second-half offensive holding calls.
Smith threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns.
Wind also scored on a 14-yard run in the second quarter and ran for 65 hard-fought yards on 28 carries.
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