Arbor View running back Daniel Mitchell wiped tears from his eyes.
Yes, this one was just a Week 2 nonleague game, but the emotions were all there.
Arbor View bulled its way back into a game it trailed early by 21 points, took a late lead only to have visiting American Fork of Utah score in three plays to retake the lead before the Aggies put together a game-winning drive for a 35-34 victory Friday night.
“We play four quarters,” first-year Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said. “To get a win against a team like American Fork, everything you get is crucial.”
It was crucial to have American Fork take a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty with 3:15 left. That backed up a potential field goal from Spencer Nielson to 41 yards.
Those 5 yards lowered the trajectory of the kick, which the interior of the Arbor View line blocked. Rickie Davis picked the ball up at the 44-yard line, in stride. And 56 yards later, the Aggies were an extra point from tying a game they hadn’t really been in all night.
So it was crucial when the Cavemen (2-1) committed an illegal substitution on the PAT. That moved the ball to the 1-yard line and allowed Arbor View (2-0) to go for 2, which the Aggies made on a Darius Williams run to take their first lead, 29-28 with 3:03 left.
Twenty seconds later, after American Fork quarterback Maddux Madsen connected on three straight pass plays, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Devin Downing, Arbor View needed another miracle.
Mitchell supplied it, taking the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff 62 yards to the Cavemen’s 18-yard line. That was the biggest run of Mitchell’s 205-yard night on 21 carries. He scored two touchdowns on the ground and added a third on a 38-yard pass from Kyle Holmes.
“I just tried to go out and do what I needed to do to get this win,” said Mitchell as he wiped away the tears. “I’m just happy.”
Arbor View then took six plays to get the ball in the end zone, culminated by the 2-yard plunge up the middle from Williams with 16 seconds left.
“I was determined to get in,” Williams said of his third-and-goal run.
American Fork had threatened to turn this one into a blowout early.
The Cavemen scored on their first three possessions, including two Madsen TD passes, to take a 21-0 lead with 9:58 to play in the first half. Madsen finished 17 of 37 for 401 yards.
But then the Arbor View ground attack started to take its toll. The Aggies finished with 372 yards rushing on 56 carries.
“I think you saw us wear them down there at the end of the first half and at the end of the game,” Gerber said.