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HERRIMAN — After a closely contested defensive battle through three quarters, the Bingham Miners' offense exploded in the fourth quarter and scored 21 unanswered points on the ground en route to a 27-10 victory over Herriman.
While the Miners trailed for the majority of the contest, Bingham finally wore the Mustangs down and stuck to their initial game plan in the come-from-behind win.
Facing fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Miners were faced with a decision to open the final quarter of play: take 3 points and close the gap to a 1-point game, or try to push it into the end zone and risk turning the ball over on downs.
Choosing the latter, Bingham handed it off to running back Havea Foto, who, with a little help from the offensive line, punched it in for 6 points and to give Bingham a lead and to effectively swinging the momentum.
"If you can't get 1 yard, then you probably don't deserve to win the game anyway," Bingham head coach Dave Peck said.
Despite the momentum swing and the eventual offensive explosion, it was a back-and-forth defensive battle leading up to that point.
Following a scoreless first quarter where the teams changed possessions on a three-and-out on nearly every series, Bingham quarterback Dallen Martinez took it upon himself to create some offense. After taking over on their own 16-yard line, Martinez found a massive gap up the left side, which he side-stepped through, and erupted 44 yards down field.
Shortly thereafter, the Mustang defense committed a horse-collar penalty, which pushed the sticks down to the Herriman 18-yard line. On the ensuing down, Bingham ran the exact same play for Martinez, and the junior quarterback easily found his way into the end zone. Bingham, however, failed to convert a 2-point conversion and took just a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.
After a few more three-and-outs by both squads, the Miners fumbled on their own 27-yard line and turned the ball over to the Mustangs — all with excellent field position.
Herriman quarterback Jack White battled his way to the 1-yard line, despite dragging a defender nearly the entire time. Following the impressive run, running back Nu'u Tafisi forced his way in for the score after spinning through a tackle and falling into the end zone. After a successful PAT, the Mustangs took a 7-6 lead into the half.
Coming out of the break, it was clear Herriman had stolen the game's momentum and quickly marched down the field behind the passing efforts of White. While the Mustangs would make their way down the 17-yard line, Bingham's defense came up big and locked down receivers in the red zone to hold Herriman to a field goal.
The teams, again, traded possessions until the start of the fourth quarter.
Following Foto's score in the fourth quarter to take a 3-point lead, the Mustangs failed to convert a first down and were forced to punt the ball back to Bingham, which was the beginning of the end. The Miners' run game finally opened up and the Mustangs had no answer.
Senior running back Saia Lomu became the star of the show as he rushed for two touchdowns on back-to-back drives — the first a 32-yard run up the middle through a massive gap without a single Herriman defender offering any resistance; the second being a similar 48-yard touchdown run.
"I just talked to them (the offensive line), me and the other running backs, Havea Fotu and Nate Elison. And credit to our running back coach, we told him, 'Hey man, just give us a chance. They can open up some big runs for us,' and they did that," Lomu said. "So all credit to those guys and the offensive line."
Shortly after the back-to-back touchdown drives and another quick series by Herriman, Bingham assumed its victory formation for a 27-10 win over the Mustangs.
"I think we eventually wore them down," Peck said. "They were playing with a lot of adrenaline, playing extremely hard, flying up, and it made it really difficult for our offense. But I think it caught up with them in the end and we wore them down."
With the victory, Bingham improves to 3-3 on the season and will face Mountain Ridge on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. MT. Meanwhile, Herriman drops to 2-4 and will face West Jordan Friday.