Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

October 26, 2021
Bees sting Buffaloes in first-round playoff game

Trailing 15-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Tooele drove to the Box Elder 31 and faced fourth-down-and six. A keeper by Tooele’s quarterback gained only three yards.

The Bees took over at their 28 and methodically moved down the field to score on a 19-yard run to increase their lead to 22-14 with only 1:04 remaining in the contest

Tooele had 1 minute to tie the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but the Bees recovered a bloop onside kickoff to take possession and ice the game.

With the victory, Box Elder travels to Timpanogos on Friday to face another Region 7 opponent in the second round, while the Buffaloes’ season ends.

“We didn’t play as well as we have this season. We had two fumbles and one returned to the house for a touchdown. We don’t usually turn over the ball like that,” said Tooele coach Andru Jones.

Tooele also lacked the services of University of Utah bound junior running back Mateaki Helu, who was injured. Helu rushed for more than 1100 yards this season in the eight games he played and scored 13 touchdowns. 

Nevertheless, Tooele outgained Box Elder by 100 yards (321-222) and ran 12 fewer plays. But a scoop-and-score TD by the Bees to start the second half proved costly for the Buffaloes.

Tooele lost the ball on the first offensive play of the game with a fumble on the snap. The Bees moved the ball to the Tooele 9-yard line, but missed a short field goal attempt.

The Buffaloes settled down on their second offensive series and drove 78 yards for a touchdown with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback Payton Sprouse ran 19 yards on a keeper and then he hooked up with Dylan Makoni on a pass to the Box Elder 2-yard line where Tabor Shepard plunged in and the Buffs were up 6-0. Tooele missed on the PAT kick.

Box Elder drove to the Tooele 10, but the Buffs forced a fumble recovered by Aiden Rosser to stop the Bees from scoring.

Late in the first half, the Bees’ defense forced a three-and-out and Tooele punted from its goal line out to the Box Elder 47. The Bees were able to score a TD on a drive that burned about 5 minutes off the clock. The drive included two third-down conversions and a critical fourth-down 3-yard TD pass to Daxton Sumko with 3:08 remaining in the first half. The Bees also converted a two-point pass to lead 8-6 at intermission.

Linebacker/running back Sumko added a TD on defense when he scooped up a fumble on Tooele’s first offensive play of the second half and ran to the end zone to give the visitors a 15-6 advantage with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter.

The Buffs quickly recovered, however, when Mapa Vaenuku ran 71 yards to the Box Elder 9-yard line. Two plays later he scored from 4 yards out. Sprouse ran it in for a 2-point conversion and Tooele trailed 15-14 with 8:51 left in the third quarter.

After a short kickoff by Tooele, the Bees had the ball at the THS 42, but Tooele’s defense held. Box Elder punted down to the THS 1-yard line with 6:29 left in the third quarter. 

The teams traded possessions in the fourth quarter until Tooele’s fourth-down attempt failed with 6:03 left in the game.

Box Elder controlled the clock and got a third touchdown with 1:04 remaining.

“It was tough for us to see the season come to an end like that,” Jones said. “Our kids fought hard. It was dang close. I’m proud of what they did.”

The coach said he was happy with the team’s improvement and 7-3 record this season. It was Tooele’s first winning season since 2016.

As for Helu missing the Box Elder game, Jones said: “It’s hard to replace a kid who’s rushed 1100 yards this year, and he’s important to us on both sides of the ball. He’s only a junior, so we have him back next season.”

The coach is optimistic about the future.

“We have something brewing here in Tooele. I love the kids. Our freshmen played in a 6A league and our JV went 7-1. On varsity our offensive linemen established the run and we rushed for 3,000 yards and threw for 1,200 yards,” the coach said.


Mark Watson

Sports Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Mark directs all editorial coverage of sports in addition to reporting on a wide range of events from high school football to international racing. He has a wealth of journalism experience, having worked for four other newspapers in the state. Mark grew up in Tooele County and graduated from Grantsville High School and Brigham Young University.

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