The Tooele football team had a chance to clinch a home playoff game and potentially a share of the Region 11 championship coming into Friday’s game at Bonneville.
Instead, the Buffaloes left Washington Terrace merely hoping to hold on to their tenuous grip on third place, dropping a 47-17 decision to the Lakers that snapped a two-game winning streak.
“We turned the ball over too many times in our own red zone,” Tooele coach Jeff Lewis said. “We had four turnovers and we also turned it over on downs in our own red zone, so there were five different instances that contributed to them scoring. That was just too much to overcome. Bonneville played well and took advantage of it.”
Tooele (4-4, 2-2 Region 11) briefly led 10-7 in the second quarter after a field goal by Hunter Meyer and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, but Bonneville (4-4, 3-1) scored 26 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach. Tooele sophomore quarterback Kulani Iongi hit receiver Conway Hogan for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 33-17, only to see Bonneville tack on two more scores.
“Just when we thought we could creep back into it, something would happen where we’d turn the ball over or we would do something that they could capitalize on and they took advantage of it,” Lewis said. “My hat’s off to them for that. It’s something that we were able to do against a couple other teams previously. This game, we contributed to our own demise. We really didn’t play well and it was kind of disappointing coming off the previous two games.”
It didn’t help matters that Tooele came into the game missing its starting center and one of its starting guards, and lost another starting guard to a concussion in the first quarter, Lewis said. That limited the Buffs’ vaunted rushing attack, forcing them to run to the outside rather than pounding the ball inside.
The Lakers haven’t lost since dropping their Region 11 opener to Ogden, and will face Stansbury on Thursday for the region championship.
Meanwhile, Tooele’s hopes of hosting a first-round playoff game were wiped out by the loss. Instead, the Buffs will host Park City on Wednesday for third place in the region, hoping to earn a more favorable first-round matchup on the road against a team from loaded Region 9.
“You’ve got to come out third and get the better seed,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, you can go on the road and steal one in the playoffs.”
Thursday’s game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Tooele High School.