By Bruce SmithFor the Deseret News
SANDY – Rarely has there been a dull moment with this year’s Alta Hawks team.
Alta got two touchdown returns from its special teams and quarterback Chipper Lucero had one of his best nights as the Hawks held off Brighton 48-31 Friday in a Region 3 contest.
Alta improved to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in region by beating the Bengals for the fourth straight time. It was Brighton’s first loss after five straight victories.
“Losing to Jordan was hard. It got us pumped up for this game,” said Alta wide receiver Harrison Handley, who caught eight passes for 85 yards, including a 23-yard scoring pass from Lucero that put the game away.
“Huge win,” said Alta coach Bob Stephens. “Special teams was phenomenal. It was a huge boost for us.”
While many fans were finding their seats, Alta opened the game with a 99-yard kickoff return by Taylor Ogden. A few minutes later, Mack Richards returned a punt 92 yards for another score and it appeared a rout was on.
Instead, Brighton rallied with one of its best quarters of the season. The Bengals took a 24-21 lead into halftime and seemed to have plenty of momentum, but everything quickly changed when the teams returned to the field.
“We had a three-and-out and they made a lot of big plays,” said Brighton coach Ryan Bullett. “We didn’t match their intensity … I don’t know why. They came out and controlled the ball.”
Lucero was a big reason. The junior signal caller, who had just 45 passing yards at halftime, hit 8-of-9 throws in the next 12 minutes as Alta’s offense roared down the field. Lucero had five touchdown throws on the night. The biggest was probably an 85-yarder to Ammon Barker that helped Alta take the lead for good.
“He was just ‘on,’” said Handley, the 6-foot-6 University of Utah recruit. “We all made mistakes in the first half, but we got it rolling after that.”
Lucero finished with 278 yards passing. He completed 12 of 13 throws in the second half. That also helped Alta eventually establish its running game, and the Hawks held on to the ball.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” Stephens said. “We wanted to keep their offense off the field. They’re dangerous. We knew that.”
Brighton showed its potential, but for only one quarter. Freshman quarterback Drew Jensen threw two touchdown passes and Osa Masina surprised the defense by throwing a 32-yarder to Tyson Reid. Uaea Masina, who had missed three games due to a knee injury, also got the Bengal fans cheering with an 82-yard kickoff return.
The Bengals’ normally vaunted running attack, however, never materialized. Jensen had 87 yards on 17 carries, but the Hawks corralled Osa Masina and Brighton’s coaching staff didn’t feel like Uaea Masina was healthy enough yet to take too many hits.
“We have some injuries, but we’ll be back,” said Bullett, whose team plays Cottonwood next week. “We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be and we need to work on that.”
Brighton 0 24 7 0 - 31Alta 14 7 20 7 - 48
A - Taylor Ogden 99 kickoff return (Tanner Valerio kick)
A - Mack Richards 92 punt return (Valerio kick)
B - Isaiah Kaufusi 42 pass from Drew Jensen (kick failed)
B - Tyson Reid 32 pass from Osa Masina (Osa Masina run)
B – FG Dall 32
B - Isaiah Kaufusi 25 pass from Drew Jensen (Dall kick)
A - Mack Richards 9 pass from Chipper Lucero (Valerio kick)
A - Carter Heslop 20 pass from Lucero (Valerio kick)
B - Uaea Masina 82 kickoff return (Dall kick)
A - Ammon Barker 85 pass from Lucero (kick failed)
A - Mack Richards 10 pass from Lucero (Valerio kick)
A - Harrison Handley 23 pass from Lucero (Valerio kick)
First downs 12 17
Rushes-yards 37-149 24-122
Passing yards 173 278
Passes 10-19-0 17-24-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties 3-25 7-54
Punts 1-36.0 3-33.0
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICSRUSHING: Brighton – Jensen 17-87, Brady McCloyn 10-44, Osa Masina 6-14, Josh Thompson 3-1, Isaiah Kaufusi 1-3. Alta – Trevor Hill 6-42, Jake Forsling 5-32, Kendal Reese 3-25, Lucero 3-8, Dylan Rivas 3-4, Max Broman 2-7, Richards 2-4.
PASSING: Brighton – Jensen 8-17-0-123 yards, Osa Masina 2-2-0-50 yards. Alta – Lucero 17-24-1-278 yards.
RECEIVING: Kaufusi 3-82, Chandler Gee 3-42, Reid 1-32, Thompson 1-14. Alta – Handley 8-85, Richards 4-49, Barker 3-111, Forsling 1-30, Carter Heslop 1-20.