SOUTH JORDAN — Despite its No. 1 ranking, Bingham approached Friday’s marquee showdown against Brighton with a bit of a chip on its shoulder.
Bingham’s players heard rumblings throughout the week that Brighton’s power rushing attack could present problems and that the Miners were ripe for the upset.
In reality, it was Brighton that had no answer for Bingham’s ground game as the Miners powered their way to a 38-27 victory in the highly anticipated showdown of 6-0 teams.
“I love this group in that they just battle; they keep coming and coming and coming, and in some cases I do think we wear people out. And that’s the advantage of platooning,” said Bingham coach Dave Peck.
Bingham trailed 14-7 after the first quarter, but it scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter and extended its lead to 31-14 by scoring on its opening drive of the third quarter.
Running back Scott Nichols did most of the damage on the ground as he rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns, despite playing just one snap in the fourth quarter.
“I think we showed we’ve got some kids who can go move some people too,” said Peck. “Scott Nichols, honestly he’s as good a tailback as we’ve had. He’s an absolute stud.”
The victory sets up a showdown with Jordan next week for what will likely be the Region 3 title. If Bingham’s defense plays like it did Friday, it will certainly be the favorite to remain undefeated.
Brighton back Osa Masina rushed for 253 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s victory over Alta, but Bingham’s defense swarmed him all game, limiting him to just 69 yards and one score.
“We knew Osa was their key guy. We kept trying to get in the backfield and send blitzes and make sure that he wasn’t getting as many yards as he was against Alta,” said Bingham defensive back Sky Manu.
Ironically enough, the Bengals did most of their damage through the air, with Robbie Hutchins throwing for 174 yards and two scores. His first touchdown pass to Isaiah Kaufusi tied the game at 7-7 with 5:51 remaining in the first quarter. A few plays later Kaufusi scooped up a fumble and raced 65 yards to put upset-minded Brighton ahead 14-7.
For a Bingham team that rallied from a 14-0 deficit at Valor Christian, Colo., earlier this season, there was no panic.
“Things happen sometimes, especially when you have a lot of good athletes on the field. Hats off to them,” said Peck.
Bingham cut the lead to 14-10 on a Chayden Johnston 43-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, and then took a 17-14 lead with 2:29 remaining in the half on a Nichols’ 3-yard score.
The dagger, however, came when Bingham recovered the ensuing squib kick near the sideline, and then Kyle Gearig connected with Dalton Schultz on a 23-yard score to increase the lead to 24-14 at the half.
The Miners increased the lead to 31-14 on a Nate Naylor 3-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter. Brighton responded with a solid drive that Masina capped with a 2-yard score, but Bingham’s ground attack drove right back down the field and built the lead back to 38-21 on Nichols’ third TD of the game.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company