HERRIMAN — The highly anticipated matchup between two of the state’s best running backs ended up being as competitive as expected, but it was a pair of Brighton teammates who stole the spotlight Friday night.
Drew Jensen ran for 143 yards and five touchdowns and kicker Hunter Dahl nailed two field goals and was perfect on his extra points as the Bengals escaped with a 41-36 victory over Herriman in a 5A quarterfinal playoff game.
With the win, Brighton (11-1) advanced to the semifinals and will play Jordan next week at Rice-Eccles Stadium. This is already a special season for the Bengals, who had not moved past the first round of the playoffs in nine years.
“Playing on the turf (at Rice-Eccles) was one of the team’s goals at the start of the year,” said Brighton coach Ryan Bullett. “We (the coaches) set up a script for them.”
The Bengals may have followed the script, but this last scene didn’t come easy. They had to overcome an impressive night by Herriman senior Brandon Farmer, who took over the Mustangs’ offense. He finished with 186 rushing yards on 25 carries, had several fine kickoff returns and was a threat to score any time he touched the ball.
Farmer’s finest play may have been the screen pass he caught on a third-and-4 play that he turned into a 71-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“That has been Brandon Farmer all year,” said Herriman coach Dustin Pearce. “He’s Mr. Committed.”
The touchdown came with 5:45 remaining and electrified Herriman’s home crowd. Colt Andolsek’s extra point gave Herriman the lead and all the Mustangs had to do was find a way to stop Brighton.
But they couldn’t. In fact, all night they couldn’t.
Brighton scored every time it had the ball — and there were also no turnovers. Junior running back Osa Masina grabbed most of the attention, finishing with 163 yards on 17 carries. However, when the Bengals needed a big play they usually turned to Jensen, a sophomore quarterback who came in for Robbie Hutchins on selected plays and got the needed yards every time.
“It’s unheard of,” Jensen said of his night. “You feel as good as you can be. I was so pumped up. We had Osa back there, and he was a big distraction. We didn’t worry about the score. We just wanted to get the ball down the field every time we had it.”
Brighton’s offense clicked from the beginning. The Bengals led 21-10 after the first quarter, but Herriman rallied to cut the margin to 24-23 at halftime. When the Mustangs took the second-half kickoff and grabbed their first lead, the contest was in doubt until the end.
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On the game’s final play, Herriman quarterback Braydon Kener fired a 30-yard pass into the end zone — headed for teammates Conner Johnson and Austin Muramato — but it was deflected as the clock ran out.
“This was two great teams. It had a championship atmosphere,” said Bullett. “These were great kids, but only one of us can move on.”
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high school sports articles for the Deseret News.