Homecoming for the American Fork Cavemen proved to be fun for all on Friday night — except the visiting Lehi Pioneers, that is.
The Cavemen pulled out a 37-18 Region 4 win in a game that was a lot closer than the score indicates.
“They are a tough team,” Caveman coach Aaron Behm said. “They kept it close and I’m proud of our guys for responding every time they made a push.”
American Fork started things off with a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Lehi made its first move at the end of the quarter, as quarterback Kinloch Gray took a keeper down the left sideline 68 yards, speeding past numerous defenders into the end zone. The Pioneers took an 8-3 lead into the second quarter following a two-point conversion.
The second quarter consisted of American Fork touchdowns by Tyler Belliston and quarterback Tyler Brimhall. They scored from progressively further away, starting with a short-yardage run by Brimhall, followed by a 26-yard run by Belliston. Dredan Snowden hauled in a short pass and blazed passed defenders before being brought down at the seven after a 43 yard catch and run to set up another Brimhall touchdown.
Trailing 24-8 Lehi, attempted a surprise onside kick to start the second half and initially, the Pioneers were awarded possession of the ball. After some brief confusion, the referees conferred with each other and it was determined that American Fork recovered the ball.
On the first play following the onside kick, Brimhall threw a backwards pass that was dropped and appeared to be recovered by Lehi. After some more confusion and referee conferencing, possession was once again awarded to the Cavemen.
On the very next play, Brimhall’s pass was tipped at the line, Riley Olsen intercepted the ball and rumbled down the sideline, giving Lehi prime field position.
But the Pioneers were unable to take advantage of finally getting the turnover. A successful fourth-down conversion was followed by a dropped pass on third-and-long at the 10-yard line, forcing Lehi to settle for a field goal. The attempt was missed wide left, keeping the score unchanged.
The Pioneer defense did not lose heart, and was able to hold the Cavemen to a three-and-out and a punt at the Caveman 20-yard line. Keaton Eager blasted through the line and blocked the punt with a huge thud as the ball blasted off his chest and out of the back of the end zone and he nearly sent the punter with it.
The safety pulled Lehi two points closer with a chance to add to it with American Fork kicking off. After a couple first downs, the Pioneers faced a fourth-and-24. Gray scrambled and heaved up a pass that was intercepted 25 yards down field to settle things down for the Cavemen.
A steady dose of Silas Olsen and Belliston on the ground and a Belliston touchdown from a yard out gave the Cavemen a 20-point cushion and a 30-10 lead.
Lehi speedster Bubba Ulukivaiola provided some late-game firework,s scoring on a 52-yard touchdown giving the Pioneers one last chance with six minutes to play. Lehi executed a perfect onside kick and recovered it, catching the Cavemen by surprise.
The fire finally burned out as Lehi turned the ball over on downs, giving American Fork the opportunity to close out homecoming in victory formation kneeling the ball and running out the clock.
“We try to make games like this mean a little extra,” Behm said. “That’s why we did the black-out with the uniforms. It just adds a some fun and gives the guys something to look forward to. I’m proud of them for coming out strong and playing hard.”