PROVO — Just call Austin Hallows the two-way warrior.
The Salem Hills wide receiver had what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the Skyhawks’ win over Provo.
But with the Bulldogs making one final drive, it was Hallows the cornerback who made the biggest play.
The 6-foot-1 senior sealed Salem Hills’ bounceback 26-21 win over the Bulldogs with an interception in the final minutes Thursday night, keeping the Skyhawks’ goal of a Region 8 title in sight.
“This was must-win. We came in this week and knew we had to win,” Hallows said after the game.
“We’ve had a tough week the last two weeks,” the senior added. “This week was big for us for the season. We really needed this game.”
After Salem Hills (6-1, 2-1 Region 8) dropped its first region contest in two years last week against Springville 16-13, the Skyhawks knew if they wanted any chance of contending with Wasatch or Maple Mountain for the league title, they couldn’t afford to drop another one.
By their own admission, the Skyhawks overlooked Springville. They came out flat, and the Red Devils — a perennial contender in Region 8 — took advantage.
Salem Hills vowed to not let that happen again.
Jarret Elmer threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, including the deciding 17-yard strike to Hallows with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
But Provo (2-5, 1-4 Region 8) nearly mounted a comeback of its own with Jace Welsch’s 27-yard strike to Ryder MacGillivray, the senior receiver’s second touchdown of the game, with 7:01 remaining.
Thursday night’s game, which was played in front of an empty stadium due to coronavirus restrictions in the Provo-Orem area, wasn’t going to be won with offense alone. It would take the Skyhawks’ defense to make a stand — and they got plenty of it, including an interception by Johnny Draper to end the first half and a sack by Willie Leota that set up Elmer’s 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“We came in and knew we had to strike first,” Hallows said. “We wanted the ball first, and we wanted to strike. But it went back and forth, a dogfight the whole game.
“To seal it off, we got a stop on defense. I was waiting for that short pass, as soon as I saw it, I got it down and it felt amazing.”
The Bulldogs came back with back-to-back touchdown strikes from Welsch, who threw three touchdown passes including a 20-yard strike to Rock Magleby that gave the Bulldogs a 14-6 lead with 10:46 left in the half.
But Elmer wasn’t done yet, first hitting Leota with a 5-yard touchdown and adding a 46-yard bomb to Gavin Averett that gave Salem Hills a 20-14 halftime advantage.
Johnny Draper picked off Welsch as the Bulldogs drove into the red zone in the final minute of the half to maintain the one-score lead at the break.
Salem Hills hosts Wasatch in a pivotal region game with title implications next Thursday, Oct. 8, before finishing the regular season against Maple Mountain.
Provo wraps up region play next Thursday at Maple Mountain before the regular-season finale Oct. 14 at Northridge.
3:48 — SH: Jarret Elmer 4 run (kick failed)
1:56 — PVO: Ryder MacGillivray, 30 pass from Jace Welsch (Grover kick)
10:46 — PVO: Rock Magleby, 20 pass from Welsch (Grover kick)
8:32 — SH: Willie Leota, 5 pass from Elmer (pass failed)
5:09 — SH: Gavin Averett, 46 pass from Elmer (Elmer pass)
Halftime — Salem Hills 20, Provo 14
2:10 — SH: Austin Hallows, 17 pass from Elmer (pass failed)
7:13 — PVO: MacGillivray, 27 pass from Welsch (Grover kick)
Final — Salem Hills 26, Provo 21
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