HOLLADAY — On paper, the game between Brighton and Olympus should not have been close, but that is the beauty of region play where none of that seems to matter between those lines.
The game was a tightly contested battle with the score being knotted up at 14-14 at the half. In the second half, however, the Bengals defense pitched a shutout and found the end zone one more time to give them a 21-14 lead to stop the Titans.
"We were dealt some blows and Olympus kept battling and wouldn’t quit," Brighton head coach Justin Hemm said of his team fighting through the game’s adversity. "Then it came down to that last drive and our guys responded and stayed in this game by showing a lot of mental and emotional toughness."
The main catalyst for the Bengals' offensive success was running back Mason Young, who scored two touchdowns with both coming on 4th-and-1 on the goal line. Young was primarily a safety going into the year but has stepped up on offense to help lead his team. Hemm said he was impressed by his running back’s vison and ability to get to the second level quickly.
"He does a great job of finding a seam, sticking one foot in the ground and getting vertical," he said. "Having him as a change-of-pace back does a lot of good things for us."
The Bengals were able to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The defensive line created pressure and did not allow the Olympus run game to get going, while the offensive line was able to create running lanes and give quarterback Gabe Curtis ample time to throw.
The game started easy for the Bengals as they scored on their first drive after Curtis connected with wide receiver Collin Edwards on a screen pass that Edwards took 39 yards to the house.
The Titans responded with a creative play on offense with running back Peyton Rice catching a lateral and then throwing a pass to wide receiver Erik Pederson for 32 yards. The play set up running back Ryan Reynard for the 1-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with a 3:02 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Bengals converted two fourth downs on their next drive with Young eventually punching it in for his first touchdown of the night, putting them up 14-7 in the second quarter.
The Olympus offense would once again respond with Titans quarterback Tommy Hogan leading his team down the field and finishing off the drive himself by running in a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 4:26 to go in the first half. The Titans kept the momentum going on defense by holding Brighton out of the end zone and forcing a missed 20-yard field goal to close out the half.
The Titans, however, could not carry the momentum into the second half as they were shut out by the Bengals defense. Led by future Ute, Lander Barton halted the Titans offense in its tracks. Hemm said he was happy to see his defense respond so effectively after a shaky start.
"They gave up some plays in the first half, but they came out and responded in the second half. I thought they did a great job of executing and were exceptional on third down all night," Hemm said.
After Young ran in his second touchdown of the game to give the Bengals a 21-14 lead with only a minute remaining in the third, Olympus was unable to put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter, and any chance at a comeback ended when Bengals cornerback Orlando Martinez picked off Hogan’s pass with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game to secure a Brighton victory.
The Bengals (5-0) travel to Springville (2-3) next week to take on the Red Devils. The Titans (2-3) will head up to Highland (2-3) to take on the Rams.