COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Brighton needed a break after a tough stretch of games to open the season, and relief came in the form of a Herriman Mustangs squad that had endured an exhausting week of an entirely different nature. The Bengals jumped out to a large early lead then played their backups for the final quarter and a half in a 38-21 win over the Mustangs Friday night.
Brighton quarterback Derek Newell continued his strong play, accounting for three touchdowns while directing a balanced offensive effort. The Bengals defense held the Mustangs to just seven first half points, led by two interceptions from Tyler Gee.
After a week spent in uncertainty due to the raging fire in their area, Herriman (2-4, 1-1 in Region 3) was still able to muster a game effort, though results in the form of points didn't come until the game was well in hand. Quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu, receiver Tanner Rush and running back Francis Bernard were able to pull off the occasional big play, but repeatedly were unable to convert yards into points.
The Bengals (3-3, 0-2 in Region 4) rebounded from last week's 35-16 loss to Alta, and earned a needed boost of confidence before a rough road in the final four games of the season.
"We just played a brutal stretch with Hunter, Lone Peak and Alta," said Brighton coach Ryan Bullet. "Hopefully tonight we got a little bit of consistency going. I feel like we need to take another step if we want to get into the playoffs, especially with how tough our league is."
Brighton jumped out to a 14-0 lead with two long drives led by running backs Nick Bolerjack and Manase Ulukivaiola (who finished with two touchdowns). Herriman, with just four offensive snaps in the first quarter, responded with a touchdown of its own to open the second. Lupeamanu hooked up with receiver Josh Marshall for a long gain to put the Mustangs at the goal line, where Bernard punched it in for a 14-7 score.
The next 20 minutes of game time belonged entirely to the Bengals. They scored on their next four drives (three touchdowns, one Aaron Stoddard field goal) while the defense continually forced Herriman into punts and turnovers.
By the time the fourth quarter began, the score was 38-7 and Bullet was playing his junior varsity. The Herriman starters remained and were able to put together two late drives for touchdowns: a 14-yard run by Tazz Everett and a 14-yard pass from Lupeamanu to Rush.
Things got chippy toward the end of the game, as a number of players on both sides scuffled after a kickoff, leading to personal fouls against each team and a Herriman player ejection. Even still, Bullet voiced respect for the startup Mustangs and coach Larry Wilson.
"They've got a great coaching staff, very positive with the kids," Bullet said. "That's going to be one of the better programs in the state in the next few years."