BOUNTIFUL – The Bountiful High football team ended their season in heartbreak Friday night, losing to the Orem Tigers 28-24 after leading for most of the game. A disappointing end, no doubt, for a team that spent most of the season ranked in the top five. The Braves were driving deep in Orem territory with under a minute remaining, but as Lavell Ika went around the right side of the line he lost control of the ball and the Tigers got the upset. It was the fourth turnover of the game for the Braves. For the Tigers it was revenge, after losing to the Braves at home in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
“I’m proud of the way our kids worked hard, and overcame a lot of adversity,” coach Larry Wall said.
Bountiful appeared to be right on track for a fourth consecutive first- round playoff victory early in the contest. After Nick Binks recovered a fumble on the Tigers’ third offensive play from scrimmage, the Braves drove down and capped off their drive with a four-yard pass form Jason Freckleton to Binks to go up 7-0.
The Braves scored again less than two minutes later when Freckleton hooked up on an 86-yard bomb to Eric Hunter to go up 14-0.
Bountiful’s defense, however, was unable to stop the Tigers in the second half, giving up three consecutive touchdown scoring drives, the last one putting Orem ahead 28-24 with 2:32 remaining.
The Tigers got the ball on an interception three plays earlier, their third pick forced in the contest, but it was a play that happened one play before the interception that caused a groan throughout the Bountiful crowd.
With Freckleton rolling out right and the Braves leading 24-21, Freckleton sent another pass deep, this time to Nick Williams. The pass hit Williams in stride and would have given the Braves the ball deep in Orem territory with three minutes remaining, but Williams could not handle the ball and instead it became third-and-long. On the next play the Tigers picked up the interception.
Bountiful now finds themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs and can only wonder what might have been on a very talented squad. Bountiful finished 8-3 and played the entire year without star Nate Moncur, as well as playing without standout linebackers Eric Nelson and Jake Magalei in the final weeks.
Although the Braves fell in their first contest to Lone Peak it was clear they would be a team to reckon with. The Braves won their next six games led by dominant defense, but showed the first chink in their armor against Mountain Crest.
Mountain Crest was able to torch the Braves’ depleted secondary on deep pass after deep pass en route to a 42-24 defeat. Every team the Braves played after that was able to expose the Braves’ undersized secondary and score points, but the ever-improving Braves offense helped secure three season-ending victories.
It was the offense that gave the Braves a 24-14 lead midway through the third quarter, but uncharacteristic mistakes and turnovers allowed the Tigers to hang around long enough for the victory.
“Most programs would throw a parade over being 8-3, but we have such high expectations,” Wall said. “It was a great season.”
It was the season that could’ve been for the Braves, had they not suffered so many critical injuries, but now Bountiful must look toward next year with few returning starters, but a lot of young talent as the Braves recover from this crushing loss.