Boone Abbott knew it when he saw it.
The American Fork senior quarterback stood on the sidelines while his defense attempted to stop the Bingham Miners from scoring. The Cavemen held a seven-point after scoring first in overtime.
The Miners employed a trick play in which senior quarterback Peyton Jones threw to senior wide receiver Avi Parikh for a long, high attempt on 3rd-and-19. Senior Jeremiah Shipley had a clear view of the ball, settled under it and made the interception that ended the game.
“I was pumped,” Abbott said. “I started yelling, ‘Pick, pick, pick!’ And then he intercepted it and we all just charged the field. It was awesome. Probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
American Fork advanced to the 6A state championship game with a 28-21 overtime win over the defending champ Bingham Miners on Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Cavemen will play Lone Peak next Friday at 2:30 p.m.
American Fork scored on its first drive in overtime with Abbott’s 11-yard touchdown pass to junior Devin Downing for a 28-21 lead, setting up the final defensive play.
Abbott led the way for the Cavemen with two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns. He went 30-for-53 with two interceptions and 346 passing yards, while also netting 57 rushing yards.
“He’s just gritty,” Cavemen head coach Aaron Behm said of Abbott. “He gets hit, he gets swung around. But yet he’ll take off. He makes big plays with feet, then he’ll settle in and he’ll deliver the ball exactly where it needs to be.”
PREP SEMIFINAL, CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Class 5A semifinals (At Rice-Eccles Stadium, University of Utah)
Skyridge vs. Roy, Friday, 11 a.m.
Olympus vs. Corner Canyon, Friday, 2:30 p.m.
Class 4A semifinal (At Rice-Eccles Stadium, University of Utah)
Orem vs. Pine View, Friday, 6 p.m.
Class 3A final (at Weber State)
North Sanpete vs. Summit Academy, Saturday 4 p.m.
Class 2A final (at Weber State)
South Summit vs. Grant County, Saturday, 11 a.m.
Class 1A final (At Weber State)
Duchesne vs. Milford, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Class 6A final (At Rice-Eccles Stadium, University of Utah)
American Fork vs. Lone Peak, Nov. 16, 2:30 p.m.
With American Fork leading 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Abbott’s pass was tipped by Miners senior defensive end Lolani Langi and intercepted by senior free safety Aaron Erickson, who returned the ball 52 yards. Jones then threw a touchdown pass to senior tight end Briasen Harward for a 21-21 tie with 5:20 remaining.
“Thankfully when we threw it, we were still up,” Behm said of the possible momentum changer. “So we just had to remind our guys, ‘Hey we’re still in perfect position, right where we want to be. We’re up in the fourth quarter.’ Football is a game of momentum. We had to overcome that and we did — thankfully.”
As time ticked away for American Fork, its pass plays with under a minute remaining in regulation didn’t make much headway. Senior kicker Kyle Thompson had an opportunity to win the game with a 49-yard field goal as time expired, but it went wide.
Both teams starting throwing scoring punches in the second quarter. Bingham broke the seal five minutes in with Jones’ 29-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Josh Woolf.
The Cavemen answered about two minutes later when Abbott, just 4 yards from the end zone, received the snap and looked to pass to a teammate. But no one was open, which relegated Abbott to snaking around the field, avoiding four tackles and running into the end zone for a 7-7 tie.
American Fork tied the game at 14 apiece with a 4-yard pass from Abbott to senior Dallin Johnson. That tying drive spanned 70 yards.
Bingham beat American Fork 28-24 a month ago. Downing said the difference in Thursday’s game was the Cavemen’s defense.
“Our defense came up with some big stops and everyone just played their hearts out,” Downing said. “I’m so proud of them.”
The last time American Fork won a state championship was 1962. Next Friday the Cavemen have an opportunity to end the drought.
“We want it for the community,” Abbott said. “Not just for ourselves. Not just for the team. We want it for everyone in the community. We want to take it home for them.”
Lone Peak 29, Pleasant Grove 0
The Knights shut out the Vikings to advance to the 6A title game. It was the first time the entire season that Pleasant Grove did not score.
“I expect a dogfight,” Lone Peak head coach Mike Mower said of the upcoming matchup against American Fork. “Obviously they’re a great team. They got a high-powered offense, good defense. I think we’re just ready for a bloodbath.”
Pleasant Grove season ends after upsetting East in the first around and beating Fremont in the subsequent round.
Dixie 20, Park City 0
In a sometimes sloppy game, the Flyers took care of business with a shutout of the Park City Miners and advanced to the 4A state championship game. The Flyers will face the winner of Friday’s matchup between Orem and Pine View.
“We never thought we’d get here,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “There were some rough patches, especially back in June during camp. The kind were leaning a new offense. They were struggling. But our quarterback’s getting better every week. We just manage to progress every week, keep getting better. Somehow we got here.”