HERRIMAN — It took everything the Herriman Mustangs could muster to hold off rival Riverton Friday night.
The Mustangs needed a gritty extra effort from running back Quincy Sandoval and timely play from their offensive and defensive lines to pull out a 21-9 victory in a Region 3 game.
Sandoval rushed for 79 yards, mostly in the fourth quarter, to help Herriman salvage its season, which started with four consecutive losses against top teams but will end with a second-place region finish and a first-round home playoff game.
“Right where we wanted to be,” said coach Dustin Pearce.
“It’s a rivalry game, and they (the Silverwolves) gave it everything they had.”
Herriman started quickly, using a long drive made up of short runs, and then a blocked punt, to carve a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. Riverton, however, rallied behind the passing of sophomore quarterback Cannon Coggins and a trio of fine receivers who are just starting to bloom.
A week after he set the school’s single-game passing record with a 416-yard effort, Coggins found life more difficult against one of the state’s toughest defenses. His 19-yard touchdown pass to Stetson Thacker just before halftime, however, turned the game around.
The Silverwolves narrowed the gap to 14-9 in the third quarter. After a nice punt pinned Herriman near its own goal line, Riverton’s defense corralled Sandoval for a safety. That big play fired up their crowd, but also ignited Herriman.
The Mustangs’ defensive line – Keaton Woodward, David Fotu, Jaren Kump, Tristan Carman and Carter Pearce – pressured Coggins on the following drive and earned two straight sacks to change the momentum. Then they watched as Sandoval and the offensive line took over.
“We knew we had to take over and do it quick,” said Sandoval, who carried seven straight times.
“The line just put us on their backs and made us play Herriman football.”
Riverton expected Sandoval again on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but quarterback Blake Freeland handed the ball to McCall Morris, who scored with 8:28 left.
That touchdown put the game out of reach and the Mustangs kept the clock moving using Sandoval, Morris and Maeakafa Leakahe. An interception by Tyson Herrera in final minute clinched Herriman’s fourth win in its last five games with postseason play looming.
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.