SALT LAKE CITY — The Bingham Miners heard all of the pregame chatter before their 5A semifinal game against Jordan on Thursday.
The Beetdiggers could spread the field on them, pass the ball, make plays and score points. If anyone could spoil Bingham's historic season, it was Jordan.
Bingham's pregame response: We'll see.
"Everybody was kind of like, 'Boy, look out, they're (the Beetdiggers) going to give them problems,' " said Miners coach Dave Peck. "We just kept saying, 'You know what, we'll see.' We'll find out because this is a great group of kids."
Bingham's postgame response: Next.
The Miners aced what was supposed to be their toughest test of the season, routing Jordan 51-23 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Bingham advances to play Fremont in the 5A state championship game next Friday.
The Miners' biggest opponent might not be the Silver Wolves next week — it could be history. Bingham, ranked No. 4 in the nation by USA Today, will look to solidify its spot as one of the top teams that's ever played in Utah.
"Not taking anything away from any other team, but I think this is the best group of athletes that's been assembled on a football field in the state of Utah — at least in my time (as a coach)," Peck said. "They're a great group of kids and I'm proud to be the coach at Bingham."
Bingham simply didn't buy into the hype that its perfect season was in danger. The Miners went about their business and approached Thursday's game like any other. Once it started, they forced turnovers to get short fields, were balanced on offense and had it decided by halftime.
"We just came out ready to play," said Bingham receiver Josh Smith. "Our coaches tell us to stay humble and that every game is our biggest test."
The Miners intercepted three passes in the first half and turned the turnovers into a 21-0 lead. Logan Parker recorded the first pick on a tipped pass in the end zone. Bingham then went 80 yards in 14 plays, and the drive was capped with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Stefan Cantwell to Dalton Fackrell.
Harvey Langi scored on a 30-yard run and Cantwell threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Smith to make it 21-0. The Miners scored the three touchdowns in less than five minutes and in a span of seven offensive plays.
Holding Jordan to 23 points was no small feat. The Beetdiggers scored 114 points in playoff wins over Davis and Cottonwood the last two weeks.
Cantwell completed 19 of 27 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 76 yards and two scores. Langi rushed for 132 yards on 17 carries. Smith, who had five catches for 141 yards, contributed a backbreaking play when he caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Cantwell early in the third to give the Miners a 34-10 lead.
"It felt great," Smith said. "I loved it — just out there having fun."
In addition to racking up 489 yards, Bingham's offense helped the team's cause by keeping Jordan's offense off the field. The Miners had more than a 13-minute advantage in time of possession.
"We never really went against an offense that could perform like their offense," Langi said. "They had so many weapons. Their quarterback (McCoy Hill) is a very, very talented player. We knew if we didn't take care of business on offense and keep their offense off the field — this game could be unpredictable."
Instead, the outcome was as predictable as every other Bingham game this season. The Miners, 12-0, now have just one game left to win to clinch their second unbeaten season in school history.
"I think everybody knows our goal wasn't just to make it up here," Peck said. "Our goal was to win a state championship. If we don't win a state championship, it will be a disappointment."
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