HERRIMAN — The defending champs were in desperate need of a victory. After playing three of the top programs in the nation, Jordan had absorbed a 1-3 start.
Could the defense compete at a high level? Could the offensive line come together? Could the ‘Diggers legitimately contend for a state championship?
Although the concerns weren’t completely put to rest, with a 49-27 win at Herriman on Friday night, Jordan's players issued a statement to the rest of the 5A classification: The road to the title still travels through them.
“I thought they kept playing hard, which I thought was important,” Jordan coach Eric Kjar said. “I thought we executed, for the most part, pretty well on offense; a few things we need to clean up. (Herriman) is a good team, too. They’re a good group of guys. We knew we’d have our hands full.”
In its three losses, Jordan’s offense produced numbers while the defense coughed up 1,196 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground alone. Herriman (2-3), despite playing without its leading rusher, challenged the ‘Digger defense to stop the triple option, something it clearly hadn’t done before Friday.
In the first half, the Mustangs rushed for a little less than 200 yards on the back of seven different rushers — primarily Kaden Hayward and Braydon Kener, who finished with 145 yards and 106 yards, respectively.
However, Jordan’s offense methodically exposed Herriman’s rush defense in return. With a healthy dose of quarterback Austin Kafentzis and running back Clay Moss the ‘Diggers reeled off scoring drives of 64, 44, 84 and 78 yards to take a 28-17 lead into the break.
The final scoring drive of the first half set the precedent for the rest of the game. Herriman had an opportunity to swing the tides in a third-and-24 situation, but Kafentzis delivered a 22-yard pass to Kosta Sergakis and followed suit with an 11-yard run around the edge. From there Kafentzis guided eight more plays before capping the drive with a second-effort run from 5 yards.
Kafentzis finished 21 of 34 for 231 yards, three scores and one interception while adding 90 yards and an additional touchdown on 20 rushes. Moss, on the other hand, had a career night, rushing for 283 yards and three touchdowns.
“He had a great game,” Kjar said of Moss. “He was running all over the place. Our front for the most part played really well. They got a lot of work still to do, but they’re doing really well.”
Herriman opened the second half with six consecutive rushes and pulled with four, 28-24, with a 31-yard scamper by Hayward.
From that junction, however, the Mustangs struggled to find consistency on the ground.
“I thought defensively, in the second half, we did a lot better,” Kjar said. “We made some adjustments. We just moved some personnel a little bit; some interior stuff on our D-line.”
Herriman, nonetheless, retained possession trailing 35-27 with 4:45 remaining at its own 1-yard line. The Mustangs moved out to the 18 before they faced a fourth-and-18. In bizarre fashion, quarterback Kyle Strauss threw the ensuing pass out of bounds to avoid the sack, which allowed Jordan to score on the following play and put the game out of reach.
Strauss finished 10 of 20 for 140 yards with one touchdown and a pick.
Clay Moss' career night leads Jordan past Herriman
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