ARLINGTON, Texas — Bingham High coach David Peck was proud of his team. The Miners fought and battled and never gave up, but in the end it was not enough as Bingham fell to Texas' Euless Trinity, 42-21, Monday at the new Cowboys Stadium.
Bingham, wide-eyed and anxious playing in front of a crowd of about 30,000 fans, started slowly against a huge and speedy Trinity team. The Trojans built a 21-7 halftime lead and made it 28-7 early in the third quarter.
But Bingham didn't come all this way to go down without a fight. Peck looked for a spark and found one when he inserted junior quarterback Stefan Cantwell in the third quarter. On his first pass attempt, Cantwell rolled right and fired a long pass downfield. Bingham's Josh Smith beat the cornerback deep, hauled in the pass and strolled into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 28-14.
Cantwell and starter Ty Hannay alternated the rest of the game and matched Trinity big play for big play. The two combined for 209 passing yards and three touchdowns, and Cantwell was a perfect 3-for-3 passing. But Bingham's deficit was too much to overcome, and Trinity walked away with a 21-point victory.
"There's a point in the game where you need a spark, and Stefan gave us one," said Peck, whose team dropped to 2-1 on the season. "We were a couple of plays away from making it a big game."
Bingham normally relies on star running back Harvey Langi to be the playmaker, but Trinity's swarming defense did its best to keep Langi in check. He was frequently hit in the backfield or right as he hit the hole, and he finished with only 52 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
Still, like his teammates, Langi kept battling. Early in the fourth quarter, he took a pass from Hannay and was hit immediately. But he bounced off the tackle and raced into the end zone to cut Bingham's deficit to 35-21.
"He's a great player, and they zeroed in on him," Peck said. "He still made some plays, but they flew to the ball really well. Their team speed made the difference."
Langi and the rest of the Bingham players were somber after the game. The experience was unforgettable, but the Miners knew that they hadn't played their best. Ten penalties for 95 yards hurt their cause, as did a pair of turnovers. And a fake punt in the third quarter was stuffed and immediately turned into a Trinity touchdown.
"It was a lifetime experience, one of the craziest experiences I've ever been through," said Langi, noting the awe-inspiring giant scoreboard that showed live action and replays throughout the game. "They have a very good team, and they came out with a lot of heart. Our team didn't come out as hard as we could have. We have a lot of work to do, but this experience was unbelievable."
Bingham's biggest struggles were on the defensive side of the ball. Trinity's balanced offensive attack made it impossible for Bingham to know what to expect from play to play, and the result was a flurry of big plays for Trinity, which has won two state titles in the past four years. One advantage for Trinity was the fact that games in Texas are played under NCAA rules, which allow for cut blocks that the Bingham players normally don't have to face.
Trinity running back Tevin Williams, a speedster with great moves and strength, produced several highlight-reel plays while racing for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Trinity was equally dangerous passing the ball. Quarterback Willie Hubbard completed 10 of 12 passes for 157 yards and a beautiful touchdown to Bobby Brown in the corner of the end zone.
Bingham's big plays all came in the passing game, including an early touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Hannay to Brady Measom, who finished with three catches for 77 yards.
Otherwise, the Bingham coaches will find a lot of things to critique from Monday's performance.
"We're not going to be happy as coaches about this game," Peck said. "The film session tomorrow is not going to be a good place to be. The expectation was to win this game. I'll take our program against anybody's in the nation. But today we got beat by a better team."