Tooele and Grantsville High football fans witnessed a suspenseful seesaw matchup at THS Friday night. The outcome was determined in the final moments of overtime and the victory could easily have tipped either way.
“We were definitely on the edge of our seats,” Grantsville coach Kody Byrd said. “We had a chance right at the end to catch that touchdown. But, give credit to Tooele, they played hard, and fought.”
It was a big passing night for Grantsville’s Coy Johnson, who completed eight of 18 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. The GHS team relied heavily on receivers Ammon Bartley and Brady Arbon, as well as Parker Thomas on the ground.
The big playmaker for Tooele was Jeno Bins, who showed prowess on both offense and defense, rushing for 229 yards on 35 carries and tying for second with five THS tackles with Cody Connelly, behind Patrick Iongi’s seven.
Cowboy sophomore Bartley scored the first two GHS touchdowns. His initial TD was a 64-yard pass play, following the Buffaloes’ first points on a field goal.
At the start of the second quarter, Tooele gained momentum on a duo of Bins runs, with a handoff, then a pitch for four total yards. Then, with fourth down and 6 yards to go, QB Austin Meono scrambled back to avoid a defensive Cowboy attack and launched a 16-yard pass to the left corner of the end zone to connect with Conway Hogan. The point after kick was wide left.
Bartley answered the Tooele TD by pulling in a Meono slant pass at the Tooele 47-yard line for his second visit to the end zone on a 59-yard play.
The Buffs hammered out a series of four ground plays — three with Bins and one crucial four yard run by Nukuluve Helu for a first down — before Bins struck TD gold on another two-yard carry.
The Buffaloes opted to go for two points and Meono sneaked into the end zone with a QB keeper to take THS up 17-14.
Grantsville upped the ante with a three-play drive. Thomas led off with a 2-yard run, but the Cowboys failed to gain yardage on second down. On third down, Johnson connected with Arbon on another long pass at from Grantsville’s 42-yard line for a 58-yard scoring play that put the Cowboys up 21-17.
Bartley deflected a throw to the end zone on THS’ next TD threat. But on their subsequent possession, despite a Tooele fumble on the 4-yard line, the Buffaloes recovered the ball at the 1-yard line and Helu muscled into the end zone to tilt the scales for THS again, 24-21.
Tooele capitalized on some missed opportunities at the end of Grantsville’s next drive and Cody Conley sacked Johnson on a first-and-10 play. Hogan intercepted a Johnson pass at the 1-yard line. However, Tooele fumbled the ball after compiling first-down yardage and the Cowboys’ Braxton Hansen recovered.
On the Tooele 10-yard line, with first-and-goal, Thomas ran to the 4-yard line, but the Tooele defense powered through the line and pushed the Cowboys back, forcing the ’Pokes to kick a field goal from 20 yards out. The game was tied at 24 forcing the teams into overtime.
Grantsville won the toss, but opted for Tooele to take over first possession of the ball.
The Buffaloes lined up at the 25-yard line. Bins ran for a 5-yard gain on first down. Then, he ran up the middle again for another first down. Another run by the Buffs put THS at the 2-yard line, where Meono opted to drive forward for the TD himself.
The kick on extra point was no good, leaving the door open for a GHS victory.
For the remainder of the game, Grantsville bet on its sure thing — Thomas ran for two yards on the Cowboys’ first play. Then Johnson commanded a quick pass to the sideline to Arbon for a first down.
Thomas again moved the Cowboys up another two yards on a run, and edged another four yards on a QB carry. Then, Johnson followed up with a 17-yard prayer to Bartley in the end zone, but Hogan foiled the pass with good defensive coverage.
Johnson’s final pass to the end zone was batted down to secure the Tooele victory, 30-24.
Byrd stated that the game was a great confidence builder for the Cowboys as they begin region play, knowing that they can hang tough with Tooele.
Tooele coach Jeff Lewis was pleased with his team’s performance, and especially happy with Bins and Meono’s solid play.
Of Bins, he said, “He had some great carries for us, obviously, and he was a workhorse most of the game … He was a solid performer on both sides of the ball.
As for Meono, Lewis added that the QB was very poised and scrambled well throughout the night.
Tooele will have two injured players, Seth Whitehouse and Hinckley Alesana, return to play Friday as they meet the Stallions on SHS turf.
“It still doesn’t get any easier for us,” Lewis said of Stansbury. “We have to approach it similar to the Grantsville game. There is no rest for us this week, there is no doubt about it.”