SALT LAKE CITY — It is often said that football is a game of inches, and that proved to be true Friday night.
The Bingham Miners traveled to East High to take on the Leopards in a high-profile Region 3 matchup. East led most of the night, but Bingham was able to come roaring back late in the game to force overtime and eventually claim a win.
In overtime, the Leopards received the ball first and running back Amini Amone was able to punch in his second touchdown of the night on fourth-and-goal situation from the 1-yard line to make it a 7-point lead for East. The Miners looked to be in trouble, especially after a tackle for loss by East defensive end Ben Roberts to make it second-and-15. But those troubles quickly evaporated as Miners quarterback Troy Mehn connected with star receiver Isiah Glasker on back-to-back throws to set up first-and-goal from the 10-yard line.
Bingham running back Cael Wightman scored on the next play to put his team in position to tie the game up with the extra point; however, after East jumped offsides, Bingham head coach Dave Peck opted to send his offense back on the field in an attempt to win the game with a 2-point conversion try.
The Miners faked a quarterback run to the right and Mehn threw it back to his tight end Josh Wolf, who was wide open in the left flat of the end zone. Wolf made the catch and the pass was ruled a completion. After a short meeting by the referees, it was confirmed and the Miners walked off with a 29-28 win.
"We tried to get them to jump offsides and knew if we got them we would go for it," Peck said, speaking of his confidence in his team's offense. "We knew they thought we were going to try and hammer it inside, so we switched it up."
The game started out well for the Miners as Leopards quarterback Izaak Zimmerman fumbled the snap on the second play of the game to give Bingham great field position. The Miners quickly capitalized on the turnover as running back Saia Lomu ran it in for a touchdown from 9 yards out to give his team an early 7-0 lead.
East responded the very next play with a big 74-yard touchdown run by Amone for his first score of the night. The next big play for East would come early in second quarter when defensive end Orion Maile-Kaufusi blocked a Miners punt to give his team great field position to start their drive. Three plays later, running back Lj Sula punched it in from two yards out to put the Leopards up 14-7 at the half.
Bingham received the second half kickoff but fumbled it back to East on the return. The Leopards would go on to score via a 34-yard touchdown run by Mapa Vaenuku with 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter to take a 14-point lead. But the Miners never lost hope and neither did Mehn who thought his team just needed a little bit of, "Miner magic."
That magic began to kick in for Bingham when they were given great field position after a snap went over the East punter's head, which allowed Bingham to start their drive at the Leopards' 16-yard line. Mehn quickly connected with Glasker on a 14-yard touchdown pass to put his team within one score.
The Bingham defense held strong and did not allow another point in regulation, which put Mehn and the Miners offense in position to force overtime.
The magic seemed to wear off when Bingham faced a third-and-26 call with under two minutes to play, but Mehn rolled out to his right and connected with Glasker on a 63-yard completion. The long gain set up a 14-yard touchdown pass to Parker Gurr to tie the game at 21 with 29 seconds remaining, and the dramatic overtime victory.
Bingham moves to 4-2 on the season and will look to ride Friday's momentum into a home game when it takes on the Riverton Silverwolves (4-3). East will travel to Herriman (3-4) in hopes to improve on a 2-4 start to the season.