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RIVERTON — Trailing 10-0 early in the first quarter, Riverton's coaching staff decided to make a change under center.
The decision paid dividends as senior quarterback Colby Barton took over the game and led the Silverwolves to a 28-17 win over Bingham and the program's second straight Region 3 title.
The passing attack prior to the substitution had been somewhat stagnant, but Barton made plays left and right and accounted for all four of Riverton's touchdowns in the win.
"I just know my team has got my back," Barton said. "I've got two great receivers on the outside who helped me a lot, and I just knew to always be ready when my number was called.
"It was amazing. To beat Bingham, they're such a good team, I'm just so stoked. To do it two years in a row after 17 years going winless — a straight underdog — I'm just happy; it was a great game."
Silverwolves quarterback Jake Meyers had a rough start to the night and threw an interception on the first play of the game to set the Miners up with great position at Riverton's 36-yard line. Riverton's defense held, but Bingham connected on a field goal to take the early 3-0 lead.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Silverwolves, Bingham put together another scoring drive — this time on the coattails of quarterback Dallen Martinez, who kept it on the ground and accounted for a majority of the yards on an 80-yard drive. Martinez called his own number to cap off the drive on a 12-yard rushing touchdown to take a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Myers forced another interception on the ensuing drive as he tried to thread the needle in a tight window on a sideline pass, but the ball landed in the arms of a Bingham defender instead. Riverton had been in the red zone and was knocking on the door, but the turnover killed any momentum the team had to that point.
The coaching staff had seen enough.
Riverton held Bingham to a three-and-out series and out trotted Barton for a chance at something new for Riverton. Barton fired on all cylinders once he entered the game and completed a pass that put Riverton on Bingham's 17-yard line. A few plays later, Barton put the Silverwolves on the board with a toss to Logan Dunfield in the end zone for a score.
Dunfield had to make a diving catch to pull the ball down, but he kept his feet inbounds. The score gave Riverton life.
Barton then went to work on the ensuing drive after the Riverton defense forced another three-and-out possession. The backup quarterback capped off the drive with a 24-yard run to the end zone for the go-ahead score and a shift in momentum.
But Bingham's Martinez wasn't about to cede momentum to the home team before the halftime break. In about three minutes, Martinez orchestrated another scoring drive that was capped off with another rushing touchdown to take a 17-14 lead at the break.
Riverton, though, shocked Bingham out of the break and recovered an onside kick to set the tone of the second half.
At midfield, Barton, again, went to work, and the drive concluded when Barton connected with Josh Jacobson for another touchdown score and the lead. Riverton found the end zone one more time behind the play of Barton.
The Miners struggled to contend with Riverton's defense and were held to several three-and-out series and were held scoreless in the second half. On a last-ditch effort late in the game, Riverton defensive back Ruben Otuafi sealed the game with a dominant pass breakup as he swatted the ball to the ground with authority.
All that was left was Riverton's victory formation and the region title.
"I'm just excited for my young men; they played their hearts out," Riverton head coach Jordy Morgan said. "We had struggled at first, we turned the ball over, we went with a new quarterback and he did awesome. We've been going back and forth for the last couple games, and in this game you can't turn over the ball. We went with the running threat, which is Colby, and he started slinging it all over the place.
"The kids just believed," Morgan added. "They believed going out if we win we are region champs, and they wanted it. They've been working since November. I push these kids super hard and they've responded every time."