Liu Aumavae, defense come up big late for Timpview football to hold off Lehi
Timpview senior quarterback Liu Aumavae had been through a rough patch during the big Thunderbird showdown with Lehi in Provo Thursday night.
He had a couple of passes intercepted and had gotten some emphatic instruction from head coach Andy Stokes about areas where his performance needed improvement.
But the veteran didn’t wilt under the criticism.
“I understand that all that is out of love,” Aumavae said. “I know Coach Stokes has the best interest for the team, and he has a best interest when he talks to any of his players. The delivery might be what it is but at the end of the day, he loves all of us. He treats us as if we were his own sons so I know there’s the best intentions.”
Instead, when Timpview had to have points when the outcome was in doubt in the second half, Aumavae was ready.
He guided the Thunderbirds on a seven-play drive, capping it with a beautiful throw to sophomore Tei Nacua for a 34-yard touchdown. The Timpview defense then kept the Pioneers at bay and Aumavae scored on a QB sneak to give the Thunderbirds the 28-14 victory.
“It was a great learning experience for all of us,” Aumavae said. “It was amazing to see that we didn’t have any doubt within ourselves or within our ability that we could win this game. Nobody had any doubt in their minds the entire game. We all knew that we had a chance to do something special this game and we pulled out the win.”
Stokes said he was pleased with how his team performed against a very good opponent.
“Lehi is probably one of the top teams in 5A,” Stokes said. “This was for the region title, so it was good for our kids. We had to overcome some adversity but when we had to score, we scored.”
Timpview seized control early, scoring touchdowns on two of its first three drives.
Thunderbird junior running back Micah Beckstead found a hole and raced 45 yards for the first score, then Aumavae spotted Nacua for a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the home team a 14-0 lead.
But Lehi’s defense tightened up and forced some Timpview miscues to stay within striking distance.
The Pioneers cut the T’Bird lead in half on the first drive of the third quarter, getting a 3-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal as junior quarterback Jackson Brousseau fired a dart to senior wide receiver Jaxon Christensen.
Lehi stopped Timpview just barely short of the line to gain on a fourth-down play, getting great field position.
Brousseau again went to Christensen, this time for a 12-yard score to tie the game.
At that point, Stokes said the message to the Thunderbird offense was simple and straightforward.
“I told Liu that we had to take it down right now and we’ve got to score,” Stokes said. “He did a good job of taking what they gave us. He threw a strike there at the end to put us up. What he had to throw a perfect ball, he threw it tonight, so good job by him. He’s just continually doing a better job each week.”
Aumavae said getting that TD pass was “amazing.”
“That was a huge moment for me,” Aumavae said. “It was awesome just watching him score. I see all the hard work they put in the offseason and all the time we spent together, so I love watching that flourish during the season.”
The Pioneers had chances to answer but the Timpview defense was simply too much and the Thunderbirds were able to put the game out of reach with one final fourth-quarter drive.
While the victory gave Timpview the Region 7 title, this Thunderbird squad still believes it can play better.
“It’s actually really exciting, knowing that we there’s so much more that we could do to get better,” Aumavae said. “We’re just going to go into this next week and just work, work on everything we can to make sure that we improve for the playoffs.”
The Thunderbirds (7-2, 3-0) close out the regular season at Jordan on Oct. 13 while Lehi (6-3, 2-1) plays at Lehi the same evening.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.