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Interception seals another tight win for Bonneville over Northridge; Lakers advance to 2nd round

By Patrick Carr - | Oct 22, 2021

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

Bonneville High football players Parker Armstrong (left) and Jordan Jacquez (second from left) celebrate a touchdown catch by Armstrong during a playoff game against Northridge on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

WASHINGTON TERRACE — Jordan Jacquez had a frustrating first half for the Bonneville High football team Friday night. Twice, the senior receiver was targeted on fourth-down pass plays in the red zone and twice, the ball went through his hands.

Another time, Jacquez dropped an interception on defense right in front of the Northridge sideline.

But where there was a valley for him, there was also a peak, that being a game-ending interception to wrap up a 28-26 win for the No. 15 Lakers over No. 18 Northridge in the first round of the 5A state playoffs.

“It was pretty good, but it was like frustrating when I kept dropping them. I don’t drop very many balls so when I do, I get upset — so when I caught that, it felt really good,” Jacquez said.

The game’s scoring didn’t start as fast as the teams’ regular-season meeting earlier this month — a 49-42 Laker win that Northridge led 14-7 after 2 minutes and 1 second of play — but Friday’s game still started pretty fast.

Kord Shaw rumbled for a 15-yard touchdown on the Lakers’ unimpeded first drive with 10:18 left in the first quarter. AJ Tillman responded on Northridge’s first drive, fighting through three tacklers to get across the goal line for a TD.

Shaw and Parker Armstrong caught touchdown passes from Koy Dixon, and Tillman had another rushing TD for Northridge as Bonneville led 21-14 at halftime. The Knights were fortunate it was only 21-14 because of the two Jacquez drops in the red zone that ended drives.

Much of the concern for Northridge was whether its star quarterback Maximus Fonoti-Maikui would play after suffering a leg injury a couple weeks ago against Bountiful.

His status was described as 50/50 as recently as Thursday, but Fonoti-Maikui was plenty present (for the Knights) both on the air and the ground, and accounted for by a Lakers defense that sacked him a handful of times in the first half.

“Credit to Northridge, man. They’re all hurt and banged up and they wanted to win tonight,” Bonneville coach Jantz Afuvai said.

The Knights were reasonably a play or two away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs, this after an 0-10 season in 2020. They finished 2021 with a mark 0f 6-5.

“Hard to digest. I didn’t think it would end tonight,” Northridge coach Andrew Fresques said. “Tough battle, I can’t say how proud I am of this group. This group took to go from not winning a game to really believing and having a winning attitude. It says a ton about this group.”

The Lakers led 28-14 in the third quarter before Zach Smith caught a long scoring pass for Northridge, but the extra point was blocked and left the score at 28-20.

That would become vital later on but, before that happened, Dixon went down with an apparent arm or shoulder injury in the third quarter and didn’t return for the Lakers.

Bonneville went to a two-quarterback system — Afuvai said the Lakers hadn’t practiced it at all — with Qwestyn Fielding and sophomore Jaxon Johnson, who wears No. 48 because the team ran out of jerseys that were small enough for him, Afuvai said.

Early in the fourth, Northridge cut the deficit to 28-26 with another Tillman TD run. The 2-point conversion failed when the snap went under Fonoti-Maikui’s legs and he was tackled.

Bonneville milked the clock after that and did so on a drive where the Lakers ran direct snap running plays to Johnson and where Jacquez made two catches from Fielding to convert third and fourth downs.

The drive ended in a punt, but that was downed at the 9-yard line and a minute left, leaving an uphill battle for Northridge to score. Bonneville’s defense sacked Fonoti-Maikui twice and that led to the final pass play that Jacquez picked off.

“We wanted to take away the screens, because the screens killed us the last time. We were able to do that, but they were still able to get plays downfield,” Afuvai said about what changed defensively this time for the Lakers.

There’s obvious reason to celebrate winning a playoff game, since Bonneville was a No. 3 seed last year and got blasted by Alta at home.

But there are also dark clouds on the horizon looking south toward Utah County, where Goliath looms and is dressed in bright orange with blue and white trim.

Timpview, Bonneville’s opponent next week, is the No. 2 seed in the 5A playoffs, but if one was to power rank the teams across the state, the Thunderbirds show up at No. 4 in many such lists.

They’re 8-2, with losses to Lone Peak (6A No. 2 seed) and Skyridge (6A No. 3). Their eight wins are by an average of 28 points and they’re loaded with about a dozen Division I recruits.

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