By Dahlen Downing
With the thermostat still in triple digits the American Fork Caveman took the field against the Servite Friars for a 5 pm kick off in Mission Viejo California.
After each team traded punts on their first possession, the Servite offense settled into a groove and started moving the ball behind quarterback TJ McMahon. He led his team down the field running the read option with skill and precision and capped a balanced drive with a 28-yard scamper through the Caveman defense for the first touchdown of the game with five minutes left in the first quarter.
The American Fork offense led by senior quarterback Bronson Barron struggled to move the ball consistently in the first quarter against an aggressive and swarming Servite defense. Bronson connected on a few nice throws but failed to put together a consistent drive and was not able to penetrate deep into Servite territory.
Servite gave starting quarterback TJ McMahon a break in the second quarter as they turned the reins over to #10 Bell who promptly drove his team down field and hit his receiver, Winfield over the middle for a ten-yard strike that put the Friars up 14-0. When the AF offense again failed to move the ball, Servite took over and hit pay dirt again this time on the ground as David Hernandez rambled 30 yards through the heart of the Caveman defense to go up 21-0.
The potent AF offense finally settled down and got into a grove with a bevy of quick hitting slants to Ferrell Dean and Chase Roberts as the Cavemen answered by moving the ball quickly down the field. Josh Wernley capped an impressive drive with some hard running to put the Cavemen on the scoreboard with a 3-yard run with five minutes left in the first half.
After a Bronson Barron tipped ball was intercepted by the Friars they quickly made them pay as McMahon hit his wide-open receiver for an easy touchdown to take a commanding 28-7 lead.
Just as it looked like the game may be getting out of hand Barron again led the AF offense down field with a balanced attack that culminated with a five-yard toss to senior slot back Jeffrey Harris to make the score 28-14 with just over a minute left in the first half.
A squib kick gave Servite excellent field position and a blown coverage on the next play led to another quick score by the Friars connecting on a 50-yard bomb making the score 35-14 at the half.
The Caveman made some adjustments at half time and came out determined to make a game of it. Bronson found his tight end Mitchell Johnson wide open over the middle for a 40-yard strike to make the score 35-21.
The Caveman defense started to flex its muscle and show some resistance holding the Friars to a field goal on their next possession. With seven minutes left in the game Ferrell Dean got just enough space over the middle to catch a 13-yard pass over his back shoulder to bring the Cavemen to within ten at 38-28 and give them hope of a comeback.
When the AF defense again stiffened and forced a Servite punt it looked like the momentum had shifted in their favor. Again, Barron took the reins and began to move his team downfield running the spread offense with his talented receivers. The Friar defense turned up the heat with blitz packages that sent Barron to the turf on some occasions and scrambling for his life on others. The final drive was filled with drama and penalties but ultimately ended in a fourth and 21 yards that AF failed to convert on. The Friars ran out the clock and walked away with a hard fought 38-28 victory over the visitors from Utah.