WASHINGTON TERRACE — McKay Parrish kicked the Bees right into the state 4-A playoffs.
On his 18th birthday, Parrish booted three field goals — including the 22-yard game-winner with 6:03 remaining — and Box Elder’s defense forced a fourth-down Lakers’ incompletion with 2:18 left in the Bees’ 16-13 Region 5 victory Friday at Wallace & Thomas Budge Field.
“I’ll give McKay a birthday hug,” said Box Elder coach Robbie Gunter. “He may be small, but he is tough.”
The Lakers, who dropped their fifth consecutive game after a 2-1 start in coach Tyler Gladwell’s first year, tied the score 13-all at 11:26 of the fourth quarter on quarterback Braxton Stofferahn’s second touchdown pass of the game to wideout Joe Wickham.
Wickham scored on a 53-yard catch-and-run reception over the middle, but he hit the left upright on the PAT attempt. Instead of having a one-point lead, Bonneville needed to get a defensive stop and then score.
The Bees, starting from their own 20, came out throwing on their ensuing drive.
Parrish made a crucial 28-yard catch following an illegal block penalty, giving Box Elder a first down at the Lakers’ 13-yard line.
He also had a 16-yard reception from quarterback Shad Watson earlier in the drive, which was good for a first down. Watson’s pass to running back Kyler Allen put the ball on the 6, and facing fourth-and-3, the Bees took a timeout with 6:07 remaining.
Parrish nailed his third field goal for a three-point lead, with the Lakers starting from their own 26-yard line with 5:59 left.
“We were driving the ball and getting field goals instead of touchdowns, but that’s all right, too,” Parrish said. “We are playing for a region championship every week. No way we were looking past Bonneville. Heck yeah, it feels good to be in the playoffs.”
Box Elder was just 2-2 in its last four games.
“We started that drive backed up, so we had to throw the ball,” Parrish said. “Everybody had an edge this week after we lost to Mountain Crest. We knew what we were facing coming here and this win will give us some confidence going into next week against (defending state 4-A champion) Logan at home.”
The Lakers never crossed midfield on their fourth-quarter drive, only advancing to the 39-yard line.
An offside penalty and then a sack backed Bonneville up to its own 28. Facing fourth-and-11 from the 35-yard line, the Lakers went for it with 2:21 remaining.
Following Stofferahn’s incomplete pass, the Bees took over on downs and ran the final 2:18 off the clock.
Allen, who had a 3-yard touchdown run at 2:07 of the second quarter, ran the ball four straight times, picking up a critical first down with 1:22 left.
“Bonneville was fighting for its life and Tyler Gladwell had his kids prepared and playing hard,” Gunter said. “I coached against his defense when I was at Viewmont and he was at Davis. This win was big and we needed it.
“We ran the ball a lot and I think we won the game because we were able to control things up front,” he said. “We have a lot of backs we rotate in since they all play defense at one time or another. Our backs ran hard and it’s nice we have a few. They each bring some different to the game, which makes them so valuable.
“We came in here expecting a dogfight and that’s exactly what Bonneville gave us,” Gunter said.
The Lakers still lead the all-time series 25-18.
Stofferahn also tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Wickham with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter, cutting Box Elder’s halftime lead to 10-7.