SALT LAKE CITY — The Herriman football team has a small sign emblazoned over the locker room. It delivers a sentimental message that's so often overlooked.
"48 minutes to play, a lifetime to remember."
That never-say-never, cherish-every-down-you-play mentality was on full display during the Mustangs heart-wrenching 29-28 overtime victory over Riverton at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday afternoon.
"We work too hard. Whatever happened, we weren't going to quit," said Herriman coach Larry Wilson. "If you believe in that, as long as you give yourself a chance — you never know what's going to happen. Great football game, neither team deserved to lose that game."
The first play from scrimmage was an indication of struggles to come in the first half for Herriman quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu.
The 6-foot-2, 225 pound, signal caller dropped back on play action and aimlessly threw into traffic for his first of three interceptions in the opening 24-minutes.
"You've got to have a short memory when you're a quarterback," said Wilson. "He did a great job, he stayed calm — great, forget it — there's nothing you can do about it — keep battling."
Lupeamanu recovered on the following series, conducting an 11-play, 75 yard, drive that culminated with a 23-yard off-tackle run by Zac McPherson.
That would be the highlight for virtually the remainder of the first half for the second-year school.
Riverton, which beat the Mustangs 42-0 last season, reeled off 21 unanswered points with touchdown runs from Stratton Brown, BJ Newman and Preston Young.
The flood gates were opening.
The Silverwolves were driving to extend its lead to three scores when Brown was unable to control a wild option pitch from Young. Herriman's Sialao Mobley pounced on the loose ball to ignite a burst of life for the Mustangs.
"It was huge. It certainly brought life back to us. They were driving and had us on our heels a little bit," Wilson said of the turnover. "You know you keep hustling and playing hard, and if you do that good things happen for you."
Two plays later, Francis Bernard broke to the weak side and scooted — untouched, for an 18-yard score to pull within seven points.
The two teams exchanged penalty plagued drives until Herriman notched things at 21 apiece with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter after Lupeamanu bounced to the outside on a 25-yard quarterback draw.
Then, just as before — neither team was able to escape poor play — forcing overtime.
Riverton's Newman kept the opening drive in extra time alive on third and 6 with a 12-yard scramble. Then, on fourth and 2 he delivered again — diving into the end zone to take the 28-21 lead.
Herriman didn't waste time responding with runs of 11 and 13 yards by McPherson before Bernard ultimately bullied in from 1 yard out.
Without hesitation the Mustangs elected to go for two points. "We told them when we score, not if, we're going for two," said Wilson of the call.
With only 18 pass attempts the entire game; Herriman baited Riverton with a play action pass leaving tight end David Christensen wide open for the game winning reception.23 comments on this story
The play before Christensen was forced to come out of the game due to visible nausea. It was all surreal to the senior who transferred from Riverton and nearly didn't play football this season.
"Football doesn't define me" he said. "I'm a smart man and I know that. I love my senior class last year at Riverton, but I have more friends here at Herriman than I do in my own senior class. I've been feeling sick all game. It was a huge game for me. I wasn't even going to play football. I had to make it a good one and go all out."