I thought we competed, but against a good Bingham team that runs the ball efficiently you can’t turn the ball over. —Herriman coach Dustin Pearce
SALT LAKE CITY — Bingham loses so rarely that there’s not really a blueprint for how to beat the Miners like there is every other team in the state. To have any chance of pulling off an upset, though, opponents absolutely have to take care of the football.
That’s something underdog Herriman simply didn’t do in the 6A semifinals on Friday night.
The Mustangs turned the ball over six times, including five in the second half, as Bingham pulled away for a 31-7 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium. When the teams met back on Sept. 1 at Herriman Bingham also won easily 34-0.
“I thought we competed, but against a good Bingham team that runs the ball efficiently you can’t turn the ball over,” said Herriman coach Dustin Pearce.
Bingham wasn’t perfect, turning the ball over twice itself, but the damage was minimal for the Miners.
Herriman’s first turnover was a fluke interception for Bingham that redirected off the foot of a Herriman receiver up to Tanner Merrill who returned it 36 yards for a touchdown and the early 7-0 lead.
“If we don’t kick an interception to Bingham it could be a whole different game,” said Pearce.
Herriman was strong defensively the entire first half and only trailed 14-7 at the break, something Pearce said Herriman felt good about being down just one possession.
An interception three plays into the second half was the start of the free fall for Herriman.
“We were forced to do some things we haven’t had to do in the last little bit, and that hurt us, and that’s what Bingham does to you. Until someone can make them do something they don’t want to do they’ll continue to win,” said Pearce.
Four of Herriman’s five second-half possessions ended in interceptions, as it finished with just 107 yards of total offense.
Pearce said the loss to top-ranked Bingham does nothing to diminish the second-half turnaround from his team this season, which began the year 0-4 and sat at 1-5 after a Week 6 loss to East, 14-10.
That narrow loss to East kick-started the turnaround for the Mustangs.
“My kids made a great run. To go 0-5 and make it here and compete with everybody and be in every game, that’s all you can ask for with kids. I’m extremely proud of our kids, they battle their butts off all year,” said Pearce.
Herriman made a few tweaks to get things going midway through the season, but getting healthy and bit easier schedule helped right the ship.
Back-to-back playoff wins over Fremont and Pleasant Grove helped build momentum for Herriman heading into the semifinals. It was forced to play catch-up in the second half against Bingham though, never a good thing for a running team.