Two huge offensive plays in the final 30 seconds of the first half, and a kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half, helped Tooele pull away from Bonneville en route to a 41-21 region victory Friday night.
Trailing 14-7, Bonneville drove to the Tooele 15-yard line with 1:20 left in the first half. The Lakers lined up in a swinging-gate/field goal attempt formation on fourth-and-5 from the 15. After some confusion on the field with Bonneville players in motion and Tooele defenders crossing the line of scrimmage, officials ruled a false start on Bonneville.
On fourth-and-10 on the 20, the Bonneville offense came back on the field to go for a first down. Tooele’s Conway Hogan broke up a pass near the goal line to give the ball back to the Buffaloes.
Tooele then came up with two big plays in the final 30 seconds of the first half to go up 21-7.
Quarterback Kulani Iongi zipped a screen pass to Aaron Pectol who ran out to the THS 49. Then, Iongi connected with Austin Meoño on a 51-yard scoring strike for a touchdown with 8 seconds until intermission.
“It was nice to put together a full game with our offense, defense and special teams,” said Tooele coach Jeff Lewis. “We kept our poise in the final seconds of the first half to come away with those two big plays. We always want to push for a sense of urgency in those situations.”
Tooele improved to 2-2 in region standings and sits in third place with Ogden (2-2). The Buffs play at Park City on Thursday while Ogden hosts Ben Lomond.
Tooele scored on its first offensive series going 80 yards in 13 plays, taking 6 minutes off the clock with runs from Iongi, Meoño and Nukuluve Helu. Iongi connected on an 11-yard TD pass to Helu to make it 7-0 with a PAT from Porter Staten.
Bonneville bounced back with a 90-yard drive early in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:20 until intermission.
Tooele’s next drive started with a long keeper by Iongi and then an 11-yard pass to Seth Whitehouse to the Bonneville 47. The offensive line opened a big hole on the left side and Helu ran 53 yards for a TD to make it 14-7 Tooele.
After holding the Lakers at the Tooele 20, two plays in 22 seconds put the Buffs up 21-7 at intermission.
The Buffaloes pushed the lead to 28-7 on a 99-yard kickoff return by Helu to open the second half.
Soon it was 34-7 for the Buffaloes after Helu intercepted a pass inside Laker territory and returned it to the 8-yard line. Three plays later, Helu scored.
Tooele tacked on its final touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 53-yard drive. The drive started with three long runs from Meoño with Helu taking the ball up the middle on an 8-yard run to make it 41-7.
Bonneville added a TD midway through the fourth quarter and another with 2:51 left in the game on a 25-yard pass to make the final 41-21.
Helu tallied 300 all-purpose yards with 136 rushing, 11 yards receiving and 118 yards on kick returns. Meoño rushed for 51 yards with 66 receiving yards and 10 punt return yards for 127 all-purpose yards.
Meoño led the way on defense with nine tackles. Aloisio Sili had seven, Conway Hogan seven and Joseph Wilkins five. Five players tallied four tackles including Helu, Whitehouse, Ware, Thad Torgensen and Sole Alesana.