HERRIMAN — In Roger Dupaix's long, storied coaching career, he has won almost 300 games and has captured eight state championships.
But he had to call Skyline's 27-26 victory at Herriman Friday night one of the best he can remember.
"This will have to be at least in the top 10 all-time," he said. "It had everything."
The Eagles trailed 11-0 early in the game, then rallied around each other following a tragic injury to one of their players. Later, their starting quarterback was hurt and had to leave the game. His replacement, who hadn't thrown a pass all year, threw a 14-yard touchdown to a receiver who hadn't caught a pass.
Then, in the game's final seconds, Patrick Nielson blocked a Herriman field goal attempt to preserve the win.
"It was intense," said junior quarterback Tyler Snyder, who came off the bench to throw the game-winning touchdown. "These guys (the Mustangs) were so good. Our defense finally started to stop them and our offense picked it up. We got the momentum."
"They were so athletic," Dupaix said. "Who would have thought we would be able to come back?"
Herriman fans didn't. Several times during the game, they began the chant, "I believe that we will win."
The Mustangs dominated early. Led by the athleticism of quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu and running back Francis Bernard, they took advantage of Skyline mistakes. They scored easily on the first drive, then a bad punt snap led to a safety (two points) and Herriman took advantage of its field position on the ensuing free kick to give freshman Colt Andolsek a chance to nail a short field goal.
The key play in the game eventually occurred early in the second quarter when Skyline senior James Bradshaw was injured on a routine running play. It took 20 minutes before he could be driven off in an ambulance to a local hospital.
Skyline's defense, which had been shredded until that time, then stopped Herriman on the ensuing drive and, on their first offensive play, the Eagles' Dylan Daugherty ran 85 yards for a touchdown to get them back into the game.
Skyline's problem was that it could never really stop the 1-2 punch of Lupeamanu and Bernard who, despite the loss, just solidified themselves even more as potential Division 1 football prospects. Lupeamanu rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries and completed 15 of 20 passes for 172 yards and no interceptions.
Bernard carried 12 times for 87 yards and caught six passes for 64 yards. He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball — and the whole stadium knew it.
Herriman's problem, however, was that it lost four fumbles. Brandon Shingleton recovered the last one and that resulted in the touchdown pass he caught from Snyder with 4:29 left that gave Skyline its first lead of the game.
Both teams couldn't move the ball after that, but Herriman had a chance at the end. Starting from their own 40 with 1:02 left, the Mustangs moved to Skyline's 19, but Jake Wittwer forced Lupeamanu to misfire on a potential touchdown pass and, on the next play, Nielson blocked Andolsek's 36-yard attempt.