The Tooele football team is back in the playoffs after a six-year absence.
Like all the other teams, the Buffaloes blasted winless Ben Lomond Friday night to punch their ticket to the state tourney. It will be their first playoff experience since 2006. Tooele finished the regular season 2-4 in the region and 3-6 overall.
Leading 7-6 after the first quarter, the Buffaloes scored four touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 33-6 at intermission. Tooele extended the lead to 46-6 midway through the third quarter, and then emptied the bench.
Ben Lomond took advantage of playing against the younger Buffaloes, and outscored Tooele 21-7 in the final quarter to make the final score 53-27.
With a normal eight-team state tournament, the Buffaloes would have been left out all alone in fifth place in the seven-team 3AA North Region. But the Utah High School Activities Association wanted a triple header for Nov. 22 at Rice-Eccles Stadium with state championship games in 5A, 4A and 3AA.
The 5A and 4A fields include 16 teams in each tournament. But 3AA only has 14 teams, so a 12-team tourney was configured with four teams receiving a bye in Friday’s first round. The only 3AA tourney teams not invited to the playoff party are Ben Lomond from the North and Payson from the South.
Tooele will travel to St. George for a 7 p.m. game Friday against the South’s fourth-place team Snow Canyon.
“They (Snow Canyon) like to run the ball and we’ve been good defensively against the run,” said Tooele coach Kyle Brady. “We will have to play a clean game with few penalties and turnovers to have a shot at winning.”
Tooele scored a touchdown on its first series at Ben Lomond, and then bogged down a bit in the first quarter with a pair of fumbles and several penalties.
Tooele quarterback Jake Brady fired a strike to tight end Lawson Ross in stride on a 53-yard pass play to set up the first touchdown. Two plays later, Adam Pace ran in from 3-yards out to make it 7-0 with a PAT from Nathan Fisk.
Tooele drove 81 yards for its second touchdown with solid runs from Ryan Brady, Pace and then a 54-yard TD romp by Andrew Spendlove on a counter-reverse play. Tooele pushed the lead to 20-0 midway through the second quarter with a 66-yard scoring drive capped by a 13-yard run by Pace.
Jake Brady went back to Ross for the fourth Tooele touchdown on a 40-yard TD pass after the Buffaloes recovered a fumble at the Scots’ 45. Tooele led 27-0 with 5:20 remaining in the second quarter.
Tooele gave up a long kickoff return coupled with a personal foul that led to a touchdown for the Scots. The return covered 40 yards to the Tooele 41, and the personal foul put the ball at the THS 21. Ben Lomond connected on a screen pass to the 4, and scored on the next play to make it 27-6.
The Buffaloes responded with a quick TD just before halftime. Jake Brady found Ross for a third time on a long pass play to push the ball to the Ben Lomond 38. The counter-reverse play went for 25 yards. And then Jake Brady fired a pass to brother Ryan Brady out of the backfield which went for 24 yards and a fifth Tooele touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half.
Tooele drove 80 yards on its first possession of the second half for another score with Pace scoring his third touchdown of the game on an 8-yard run.
The Buffaloes recovered a fumble and then drove 60 yards for a score with sophomore quarterback Carver Jaramillo leading the way. Solid runs by Cole Fonger and Nate Reynolds pushed the drive along with Reynolds carrying it five yards for a seventh Tooele TD and a 46-40 lead.
Tooele’s final touchdown came on a 15-yard run by Fonger.
“We definitely wanted to work on our pass game against them,” Brady said. Jake Brady was on target hitting six-of-seven attempts for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Lawson had three catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Brady had two grabs for 37 yards and a TD. Reynolds had one catch for 11 yards.
Pace carried nine times for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Spendlove carried three times for 81 yards and a TD. Fonger packed the ball nine times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Brady carried five times for 55 yards.
“I’ve been pleased with the offensive line play in recent games. They’ve opened up some good holes for our runners,” Brady said.
The offensive line includes Tony Leakehe, Tyler Daley, Daniel Aragon, Zach Langi and Ethan Reynolds.
Playing on the defensive line are Maka Kioa, Leakehe, Aaragon, Ross and Reynolds.
After losses to Cyprus and Grantsville to start the season, Tooele has rebounded nicely with a 3-4 record in the last seven games. The Buffaloes were only blown out once against undefeated Juan Diego. They whipped up on Canyon view, lost 62-48 in a shoot-out against Bear River, lost a close game to Park City and won a close game against Uintah. They lost to Stansbury by one touchdown and then handled Ben Lomond.