West Valley City • Kearns controlled Hunter for three quarters Friday night, but a gutsy play early in the fourth quarter swung the momentum the Wolverines' way in a 21-20 come-from-behind victory.
Hunter trailed 20-7 going into the fourth quarter and had not done a thing offensively since its opening drive of the game.
The Wolverines had a perfect opportunity claw back into the game when they advanced the ball to the Kearns' 5-yard line. After a false start penalty and three failed attempts to punch it in, Hunter faced fourth-and-goal from the 9-yard line. The Wolverines elected to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal.
"If I get down close, I'm like a shark in the water," Hunter coach Scott Henderson said. "If I smell blood in the water, I'm going to go get it. My kids are that way. They want to go for the jugular."
Senior quarterback Shawn Scanlan took the fourth-down snap and immediately felt heat from Kearns' defensive line.
Scanlon rolled right and released the ball just before getting hit. Sophomore wide receiver Noah Togiai was the only Wolverines player on the field with a chance to make a play.
"I actually couldn't even see the quarterback. I thought he got sacked," Togiai said. "Then I just see the ball pop up, and I knew I had to go get it."
The pass was high, but Togiai did go get it with a leaping snag. He landed on his back in the end zone, but he maintained possession to give the Wolverines the touchdown.
The play energized Hunter and deflated Kearns.
The Wolverines stopped Kearns on its next possession and quickly moved down the field for another touchdown to take the lead 21-20.
The Cougars got the ball back with six minutes left and closing in on field goal range, but an interception by Hunter junior defensive back Kaleo Laita sealed the win for the Wolverines.
Hunter is now in sole possession of first place in Region 2.
"We're vying for a region championship with this," Henderson said. "We presented them with a challenge and they stepped up to it."
• Hunter scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to overcome a 20-7 deficit.
• Hunter backup running back Izaiha Paonga-Lei ran for 90 yards, including 69 in the second half.
• The Wolverines are in sole possession of first place in Region 2.