3AA Playoffs: Wild and wacky win sends Panthers to state semifinals

Panther Jacob Mpungi fights for yardage, Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

TOOELE — In a wild and wooly game that included long touchdown passes, onside kicks, a fantastic hook-and-ladder play, almost a 1,000 yards of total offense between the two teams and lots of turnovers, the Pine View Panthers held on to beat the Tooele Buffaloes 38-36 Friday at Tooele High School.

pine-view-logotooele-logoThe win advances the Panthers to the 3AA state football semifinals. Pine View will play region rival Dixie at 5 p.m. Friday night at Southern Utah University’s Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City.

After such a barnburner of a game, it was only fitting that it came down to the final play to decide the contest. Pine View staved off two furious comebacks in which Tooele rallied from deficits of 17-0 and 38-23. Tooele, which never led, got within one point, 24-23, early in third quarter and the Buffs were just a two-point conversion away from tying the game with 15 seconds left.

D'angelo Mpungi (22) celebrates with teammates after an interception, Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News
D’angelo Mpungi (22) celebrates with teammates after an interception, Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Pine View’s persistent pass rush pressured Tooele’s Austin Meono on Tooele’s final two-point attempt. Meono was flushed out of the pocket and threw as he got hit, sailing a ball out of bounds to end the bid to tie the game. The Buffaloes got one more chance to win the game before the night was through.

With 10 seconds left, Tooele attempted an onside kick and stayed alive by recovering the attempt. With no timeouts, Meono quickly found a man open near the sideline for a 15-yard gain. Tooele’s Matthew Vigil was able to slip out of bounds with 5.5 remaining and set up a very threatening game-winning Hail Mary attempt from 33-yards away.

Meono rolled out to pass, but before he could ever look downfield, Pine View’s Tyler Heaton shot a gap in the line and came away with a clutch sack to end the game.

“You know what, Tyler Heaton has been a beast all year and he is just nightmare for the defense,” PV head coach Ray Hosner said. “On that play, they had been triple-teaming him and he split the guys, then the back tried to block him and he split the back, too, and he just wasn’t going to be told no. He got the sack and there was four or five guys trying to block him and they couldn’t and he got the sack to win it for us.”

Heaton added that his coach helped him know how to find the quarterback.

PV's Tyler Heaton (52) and Jacob Mpungi (6), Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News
PV’s Tyler Heaton (52) and Jacob Mpungi (6), Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

“My coach saw it and he told me,” Heaton said. “‘He is rolling out to the left’ my coach said, so I was like ‘OK’. I just shot the gap and ran at him then I caught him, but he spun off of me and I had him by the jersey and I just held on for dear life. My fingers actually hurt because I was just trying to hold on, but I was able to bring him down.”

In a moment that truly made a great game, a 3AA playoff classic, Pine View called a trick play, a hook-and-ladder, when things seemed to be going south for them. After losing a 17-0 lead and finding themselves once again in a tight 24-23 battle, the Panthers’ third down sleight-of-hand paid off huge.

Pine View’s Ryan Javines, who would finish the game with 345 yards passing and three total touchdowns, fired in a quick bullet to the hook man, who immediately pitched to a streaking Jacob Mpungi. The play fooled everyone, and Mpungi ran 81 yards untouched for a TD.

“We practiced that (hook-and-ladder) all week,” Mpungi said. “Coach said we were going to run that in the second half and we did. We executed and it worked. The outside linebacker was jumping on that quick curl, so we didn’t know. But then that outside linebacker moved to middle and so it was wide open.”

Jacob Mpungi ran 81 yards untouched on this hook-and-ladder play, Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News
Jacob Mpungi ran 81 yards untouched on this hook-and-ladder play, Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Hosner added that was one of the game’s defining moments.

“That was all Coach (Todd) Shaw on the play call, 100 percent,” Hosner said. “He said it’s the perfect time for it and we need a momentum change and that’s why you have great coaches around you. It gave us the momentum back and gave us the lead.”

Senior Dylan Hendrickson, who scored on a 19-yard reception in the first half and got an interception late in second half, said it was one of the craziest games he has ever been a part of.

“It was crazy,” Hendrickson said. “And so emotional. You could feel the emotion on the field and everyone did their job and we were able to come out on top. We watched enough film to know that Tooele never quits and the same thing happened when Tooele played Park City. Park City was up 14-0 at halftime and they came back and beat them, so we knew that they wouldn’t quit and our coach told us to be disciplined so we just did it for him.”

After an interception by Pine View’s D’angelo Mpungi on Tooele’s next possession, Jacob Mpungi scored on a 3-yard run and visited the end zone for the third time of the day to put PV up 38-23, a lead that would ultimately prove to be enough. Mpungi finished with 152 rushing yards on 35 attempts, and added another 130 yards receiving. Pine View’s Paullevine Vondincklage also recorded a second half interception.

In the first half, Pine View went up 17-0. Tooele’s speedster, Mikey Dunn, changed momentum by breaking off a 75-yard return that set up the Buffalo offense with a short field. Tooele’s feature back, Lincoln Powers, punched it in from 6-yards out to put Tooele on the board. On Pine View’s ensuing possession, a fumble set up THS’s Eli Shovan with a 26-yard field goal to make it 17-10.

Ryan Javines (15), Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News
Ryan Javines (15), Pine View at Tooele, Tooele, Utah, Nov. 4, 2016 | Photo by AJ Griffin, St. George News

Pine View then focused on the ground game, and began to work with Jacob Mpungi, who scored his first TD run of the day from 3 yards out to put PV up 24-10. Right before half though, Pine View threw a pick-six, which slimmed the lead to 24-17 going into the half.

Tooele came out of the locker room and forced Pine View to a three-and-out, then Powers whipped off a 63-yard scamper to pull Tooele within one point after the PAT attempt was wide left. The Panthers then ran their hook-and-ladder on their way to building a 38-23 lead.

Pine View won in almost every statistical category and ended the game with an astronomical 543 yards of offense (Tooele 398), 25 first downs (Tooele 22) and were 12 for 17 (70%) on third down compared to Tooele’s 7 of 15 (46%). Pine View had three turnovers (Tooele four). Pine View’s Michael Moten also had a good game with 10 catches for 126 yards.

The Panthers improve their record to 9-2 and will prepare for rival Dixie (7-3) in a semifinal matchup Friday at 5 p.m. at SUU. Tooele finishes its season 9-2.

Stats: pvtoo11-416; pvtoo110416b

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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