Midvale • Cottonwood and Brighton both earned a trip to the 5A state football playoffs, while West Jordan was eliminated in an unusual three-team play-in game Monday.
Cottonwood, which lost its first five games of the regular season, finally looked like the team everybody expected all along by beating Brighton, 20-0, in the first half.
"I'm darn glad it came when it did," Cottonwood coach Greg Croshaw said. "We're still alive, so it's all good."
The Colts wasted no time proving that they deserved to go to the playoffs by rolling to their first-half win. Quarterback Cooper Bateman and the offense looked inspired by the prospect of missing out on the playoffs because it only took them three plays and 33 seconds to go 69 yards for a touchdown.
After Brighton fumbled on its third play from scrimmage, the Colts again found the end zone on a 5-yard quarterback keeper by Bateman. Cottonwood took a 14-0 lead and Bateman had 78 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in about three minutes of play. Before the Bengals knew what hit them, they were in a hole they never would climb out of.
"We never lost hope, but I know we had doubters," Bateman said. "We're out here proving them wrong."
Brighton again seemed destined for defeat when it took on West Jordan in the second half. The Bengals scored a touchdown on their first possession, but a missed extra point left the door open for the Jaguars, who scored a touchdown late in the first (third quarter). They made their extra point to take a 7-6 lead.
The Jaguars tried to put away the game by going for it on fourth-and-4 from the Brighton 30-yard line with about four minutes remaining, but they came up short.
Brighton had a last chance, but it wasn't able to do much. With about 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining, the Bengals faced fourth-and-19 from their own 46-yard line. Freshman quarterback Drew Jensen rolled left and heaved up a desperation toss.
Receiver Alec McArdle corralled it in the middle of three converging defenders and sprinted toward the end zone. An easy touchdown almost was for naught when McArdle fumbled the ball at the 5-yard line, but he was able to jump on it just before it rolled out of the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The Bengals converted the two-point conversion to win 14-7.
"I didn't know what to think when I caught that ball; I just ran," McArdle said. "Then I dropped it and thought, 'Oh crap, I have to get it, no matter what.' When he signaled touchdown, it was just happiness. We're going to state."
Colts, Bengals advance
R Cottonwood quarterback Cooper Bateman led the Colts to a 20-0 first-half victory over Brighton with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.
• Brighton receiver Alec McArdle caught a 54-yard TD pass on fourth-and-19 with 1:09 remaining in the second half against West Jordan to send the Bengals to the playoffs.
• Cottonwood will play at Bingham in the first round of the playoffs on a day to be determined, and Brighton will play at Lone Peak on Saturday at 2 p.m.