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HERRIMAN — The game looked to be over with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Mountain Ridge quarterback Ayden Helm connected with his favorite target, 6-foot-4 receiver Jordan Day, on a 12-yard passing touchdown to put the Sentinels up 24-7 over Herriman.
The Mustangs offense had been marred by penalties and fumbles all game long, which made the 17-point deficit seem insurmountable. But Herriman had other plans.
On the second play of the ensuing Mustangs drive, quarterback Jack White aired it out deep for 37 yards on his longest pass of the night and connected with receiver Max Robinson to put his team inside the Sentinels' 25-yard line. A few plays later, White found the end zone on a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Needing to hold Mountain Ridge on defense, Herriman forced a three-and-out series before blocking a punt and recovering it in the end zone to make it a 3-point game with just 5:37 left to play.
On Mountain Ridge's ensuing drive, Herriman linebacker Carson Grundy picked up a big sack that forced the Sentinels to punt it to the suddenly surging Mustangs with under three minutes left to play. Punt returner Michel Falatea sifted his way through the Mountain Ridge defense before being tackled on the Sentinels' 25-yard line.
A few tough runs by Grundy, who also plays running back for Herriman, set up a 22-yard field goal attempt by White, who also serves as the team's placekicker. The senior quarterback drilled the kick as time expired to send the game to overtime in an improbable comeback.
In overtime, both teams had to settle for a field goal on their first possessions. And in the second overtime period, Herriman was again forced to settle with a 29-yard field goal to take a 3-point lead.
The opportunity was there for the taking for Mountain Ridge.
After a pass interference call on third-and-3 kept the Sentinels drive alive, Helm found receiver Collin Sublette on a 9-yard pass to put the team at the Mustangs' 1-yard line. Helm then handed it off to star running back Cade Uluave, who punched it in to give Mountain Ridge win.
"That was a roller coaster of a game, and we duked it out to the very end," Mountain Ridge head coach Mike Meifu said.
Maeifu was the first in line to high five the Herriman team and waited on the opposite end to greet each one of his players as they exited the line.
"It's all about the players, especially our seniors," Maeifu said. "These guys went through a lot these last couple of years to be in this spot. I know this means a lot to them, and I'm so proud of those guys because they put in the work to get here."
Mountain Ridge's first year as a program was in 2019 when it split from Herriman. The Sentinels lost 56-0 to Olympus in their first game that year and went on to finish 0-11. Two years later, the Sentinels finished their regular season with an 8-2 record and look to be a threat in Region 3.
Many of the team's players, like Helm and Uluvae, started for all three years, making Thursday night's victory even more special.
"It's amazing. This moment has been three years in the making," said Helm, who had tears in his eyes after the hard-fought victory. "We got beat up by everybody in our first year, so to just come out on senior night and show them what's up means everything."
"We've battled through a lot of adversity; it's been a crazy few years," Uluave added. "Most of us chose to come here over going to Herriman, so there's no better feeling then fighting hard and getting the win."