Tooele sputtered in the third quarter Friday night against winless Uintah, but righted the ship in the fourth to trounce the Utes 34-14.
Leading 21-0 at intermission, the Buffaloes (2-6, 2-3 Region 10) gave up two third-quarter touchdowns to give the visitors some hope of winning their first game only down 21-14.
But Tooele bounced back to outscore Uintah 13-0 in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
Tooele’s offense was pinned deep on its side of the field for most of the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t get out of our area, but we weathered the storm and once we got the field flipped we were OK. I was really happy how the players fought out of that hole,” said coach Andru Jones.
Tooele has surged in the fourth quarter in recent games, outscoring its last two opponents 27-3 in the final stanza in a 23-21 loss to Cedar Valley and the win over Uintah (0-8, 0-5).
Tooele drove 65 yards to the Uintah 1-yard line on its first possession of the game, but the Utes kept them out of the end zone.
Tooele’s defense kept the Utes pinned in their own territory and a short punt gave Tooele the ball at the Ute 28. On the first play, Justic Tadifa fired a TD pass to Gavin Brown to give Tooele a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The Buffalo defense continued to dominate and Tooele’s offense drove 56 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter. Tabor Shepard broke several tackles on a 26-yard run to the Uintah 7-yard line, where Tadifa tossed to Shepard on the next play for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with the PAT kick from Brady Grgich.
Tooele got the ball back at its own 8-yard line with just 1:33 until intermission.
After a 9-yard completion to Dylan Makoni,Tadifa tossed a short pass in the left flat to Mateaki Helu, who eluded and ran over defenders, crossed the field and dashed to the end zone with 42 seconds left in the first half to make it 21-0 at intermission.
Uintah gained some momentum with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter.
The Utes connected on a 39-yard pass and eventually scored to make it 21-7. Later in the third, the visitors scored after Tooele penalties and a short punt gave the visitors the ball at the Tooele 38. The Utes scored on a fourth-and-goal pass from the 5-yard line to make it 21-14.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Buffaloes.
Helu appeared to be tackled for a loss, but escaped and ran 37 yards to the Uintah 12. He then ran to the end zone from 4 yards out to make it 28-14 with the PAT.
The Buffaloes wrapped up the scoring with a 42-yard drive that included a 30-yard pass to Helu to set up a 5-yard scoring run from Makoni to make the final 34-14.
Tooele used a balanced attack on offense with 200 yards passing and 206 yards rushing. Helu rushed nine times for 76 yards and Anthony Cole added 56 yards on 14 carries.
Helu’s two receptions went for 114 yards, and Shepard grabbed four passes for 49 yards.
Linebacker Ernest Gurr came through with three tackles for loss. Lineman Devin Murphy had two tackles for loss and linebacker Adrien Lovato had two tackles for loss.
Senior linebacker Ty Sutherland recorded eight tackles, Drake Gritzmacher six, Shepard five, Gurr four, Kameron Rolle four and Murphy four.
The Buffaloes will face Region 10 leader Park City on the road Thursday night.