SALT LAKE CITY — Bingham is king of Utah high school football again.
After taking a back seat the past couple of years to teams with superstar Mr. Football quarterbacks, the Miners restored order to Utah football on Friday with a resounding 38-13 victory over Brighton to capture the 5A state championship.
Outside of a small blip in the second quarter, Bingham was in control from start to finish, capturing its third state title in the past five years and capping a perfect 14-0 campaign.
“It means a lot to send these 2013 seniors off right. Means a lot to them, means a lot to us, means a lot to these coaches. It’s a very special thing to go 14-0,” said Bingham linebacker Daniel Langi.
The Miners become the seventh team in state history to finish with a 14-0 record, joining the perfect Bingham team of 2006.
“It’s a remarkable thing. I told these guys if we go get this done I’m going to remember them for being a team that dared to be great and put us back into that elite status instead of just being a good team,” said Bingham coach Dave Peck.
Bingham did it with some good ol’ fashion power football. Clinging to a 21-13 lead at the half — and knowing starting QB Kyle Gearig couldn’t play the second half because of concussion symptoms — the Miners ran the ball right down Brighton’s throat.
Over the opening 15:17 of the second half, the Miners ran 27 offensive plays compared to just two for Brighton. They capped two long drives with 10 points to finish off a Brighton team it beat 38-27 earlier in the season.
“It would’ve been real easy to come out at halftime and just kind of go, ‘Uh oh, it’s not our day,’ and that never happened even one little bit. 'It was like, 'All right, it’s all business now,” said Peck.
Scott Nichols did most of the offensive damage for Bingham, carrying the ball 27 times for 165 yards and one touchdown.
As efficient as Nichols was in the second half, though, Bingham’s defense and passing attack did the damage early.
The Miners forced Brighton into punts on its first two possessions, and quickly capitalized on the short fields to take a 14-0 lead. Gearig put Bingham ahead 7-0 with a 14-yard TD run, and two minutes later he hit Nichols on a 51-yard TD pass for the 14-0 lead.
“We always defer. Anytime we have a chance we always defer because we feel if we come out and get a three-and-out it sets the tone for the game,” said Peck.
Bingham stretched the lead to 21-0 at the 2:48 mark of the first quarter as Gearig hit Landon Measom on a 33-yard TD pass — one play after a Brighton fumble.
After spotting the No. 1 team in Utah 21 points, Brighton finally settled down. With 2:08 remaining in the half, it finally got on the board as QB Robbie Hutchins scampered 11 yards into the end zone.
The momentum swing continued two plays later as Brighton linebacker Sione Heimuli-Lund caught a tipped Gearig pass and raced 46 yards into the end zone, whittling the deficit to 21-13 after a missed extra point.
The play was doubly damaging for Bingham. Gearig took a hit to the head tackling Heimuli-Lund at the 1-yard line, and was knocked out for about 20 seconds. Doctors wouldn’t allow Gearig to return to the game because of concussion symptoms, but Kade Jensen filled in admirably in the second half, managing the game and letting workhorse back Nichols do his thing.
Nichols ran for more than 200 yards in a previous meeting with Brighton, which didn’t have an answer in the rematch.
“There’s two things; I think two teams were way ahead of everybody else this year in 5A, and obviously they’re better than we are, and I thought we were better than everybody else,” said Brighton coach Ryan Bullet. “So that’s kind of how it went this year. I thought there were two teams that really stood out. But the better team won today.”
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company