High school football: Olympus edges Herriman in thriller

By Bruce Smith

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Sept. 30 2011 11:38 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — There wasn't a threatening cloud in the sky, but lightning struck twice as the Olympus Titans held off the Herriman Mustangs 27-21 Friday night at Skyline High School's field.

"It was deja vu all over again," said Oly coach Aaron Whitehead.

The Titans improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 7 play in an entertaining contest that didn't end until Herriman quarterback Tueni Lupemanu's final pass fell incomplete at the Oly 20-yard line. The Titans won a thrilling game — just as it did two weeks ago at Westlake.

Herriman, meanwhile, lost a thriller, much like last week's home game against Skyline.

Oly's Brandon McBride rushed for 105 yards and scored twice, but it was Cole Benson's interception early in the third quarter that gave the Titans a big momentum surge. Oly quickly scored two touchdowns and that ended up being enough.

"We were excited to play these guys ... it was an exciting win," said Whitehead, whose team will likely have at least a couple more exciting moments in the future. Next week, the Titans play their first game on their new home field — against Hillcrest. A win there will likely set up a region championship game against rival Skyline Oct. 14.

"We wanted to be able to run the ball against them, and we did that tonight," he added. "We had a lot of guys make big plays."

Whitehead called Benson's play the biggest.

Herriman trimmed Oly's 13-0 lead with a touchdown just before halftime, and got the kickoff to start the third quarter. However, on the second play, Benson grabbed his third pick of the season and returned it to the Herriman 20.

Three plays later, McBride scored on a 5-yard run to give the Titans some breathing room. After holding Herriman on its next series, quarterback Scott Porter then led Oly on a 10-play, 78-yard drive that ended with another McBride touchdown.

Oly also did a nice job holding Herriman's athletic tandem of Lupeamanu and running back Francis Bernard. Those two players have had stunning moments at times this year, but were frustrated here.

Lupeamanu completed 11 of 29 passes for 147 yards, but was intercepted twice. He also was unable to break loose running the ball. Bernard, meanwhile, rushed for 82 yards on 14 carries and caught six passes for 46 yards.

The Mustangs rallied by getting their big plays elsewhere.

A turning point came with 5:34 left in the game when Ben Richard blocked a Titan punt, picked it up at the 6-yard line and scored. The Mustangs then recovered the onside kick and sophomore Alex Tuinei made a circus 25-yard touchdown catch.

The last few minutes were among the most exciting of the season for both teams, but it wasn't enough for Herriman. The Mustangs dropped their second straight after opening the season with five straight wins.

"Our backs are against the wall now," said Herriman coach Larry Wilson. "I felt like we lost last week (27-26 to Skyline), but tonight Olympus was the better team. Our team is new and still hasn't learned to win games like this. We have to learn before it's too late."

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