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Pleasant Grove Moves On To Semifinals With Win Over Fremont

Pleasant Grove running back Dayne Christiansen celebrates a touchdown against Fremont in the quarterfinals of the 6A state football playoffs in Plain City, Utah.

PLAIN CITY, Utah – 12 years is the last time the Pleasant Grove Vikings played in a semifinal game in the football state tournament. That changed with the Vikings’ 38-14 win over Fremont High School.

It adds to the long, winding road that the Vikings have traveled in 2018.

Pleasant Grove started the season 5-2 with close losses against Corner Canyon and Bingham – two favorites to win titles in their classifications. With back-to-back shutout wins, the Vikings looked poised to continue to roll with games against American Fork and Lone Peak to close out the region schedule.

But the road is never as easy as it looks.

In the first quarter against American Fork, Pleasant Grove’s three-year starting quarterback, Jake Jensen went down with an injury and the Cavemen pounced on the opportunity scoring 25 points in the first half.

The next week, with Jensen still out, the Vikings lost a hard-fought battle against Lone Peak. The magic of the season had hit a bump in the road and the Vikings found themselves in fourth place in region 4 with an inevitable matchup against 2017 state champion runner-up, East.

“We had to play through adversity and some losses this year, and that really defines your character,” said Pleasant Grove Head Coach Mark Wootton.

Jensen returned for the game and brought wind back to the Vikings’ sails leading Pleasant Grove to a 27-21 upset over the Leopards. Jensen threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

“The kids know they need to rally around [Jensen], not let him get hit, seems like since the three weeks since he sat and watch, seems to me he’s even more mentally tuned in and is making more plays,” said Wootton. “Jake’s a stud.”

The momentum carried into Friday’s game against Fremont.

The Vikings scored 24 points in the first half. Jensen got the ball rolling when he hit Jackson Hill on a crossing route with just over a minute left in the first quarter. Hill went for 74 yards and was tackled just shy of the goal line.

Pleasant Grove running back Dayne Christiansen scored on the next play.

The Vikings added another score a few minutes later after the defense forced a punt on a six-minute drive by the Silverwolves. Jensen found Dallin Espiritu downfield bringing Pleasant Grove down to the Fremont 31-yard line. Rex Connors added to the drive with a seven yard run before Christiansen punched it in from the two-yard line giving Pleasant Grove a 14-0 lead.

Christiansen scored four touchdowns in the game – three rushing and one on a third quarter reception from Jensen.

“Fremont did a pretty good job of bottling him up early and what that does is open up a lot of things for other kids,” said Wootton. “Having him on our team is definitely an advantage.”

“[This win] means a lot. I’m really happy for the kids and this community. They’ve worked really hard for the last three years,” Wootton said.

And the hard work paid off for the Vikings earning their first trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium since 2006.