HERRIMAN — All week leading up to Thursday’s game with a physical Herriman squad, American Fork coach Aaron Behm challenged his team to be physical — but also play smart.
Penalties had been a problem in the first three weeks of the season for the Cavemen, but on Thursday they cleaned up those miscues and also won the turnover battle in a convincing 37-12 victory over Herriman.
“It’s the game we’ve been looking for with very few mistakes, a lot less penalties than we’ve had and winning the turnover battle,” said Behm. “That’s something we haven’t done in the first three weeks, and we knew we were very capable if we could limit those things and it was good to see.”
The win helped American Fork wrap up the preseason with a 3-1 record as it shifts gears to region play next week at Westlake.
American Fork set the tone right away on both sides of the ball.
The offense marched right downfield on its opening possession and took a 7-0 lead as Boone Abbott hit Chase Roberts on a 1-yard slant route on first and goal. The TD capped an 11-play drive that started near midfield after the Cavemen defense got a quick stop to open the game.
Another defensive stop set American Fork up with great field position again as Bodie Schoonover intercepted a screen pass and returned it to Herriman’s 24-yard line.
The drive ended quickly with three straight incompletions, but the Cavemen were close enough for Kyle Thompson to boot a 41-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead with 3:39 remaining in the first quarter.
American Fork pushed the lead to 17-0 with 5:20 left in the half as Devin Downing hauled in a 9-yard TD pass from Abbott in the corner of the end zone to cap another drive that the defense set up with great field position.
The defense held Herriman to just three first downs in the first half and 75 yards of total offense.
“We challenged them all week. These guys want to out-physical you and physically move you down the field and you’ve got to respond to that, and they were prepared. They were in the right place and they played with a 100 percent effort to shut that down,” said Behm.
American Fork effectively put the game out of reach on its opening drive of the third quarter marching 82 yards in 10 plays with Abbott and Downing connecting on another nine-yard TD pass for the 24-0 lead with 7:45 left in the quarter.
After its abysmal first half, Herriman’s offense finally put a drive together after falling behind 24-0. Aided by three third down conversions and then one fourth down conversion, the Mustangs ate up nearly nine minutes off the clock as Ngana Leakehe scored on a 2-yard plunge with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 24-6 after the failed two-point conversion.
American Fork answered back two plays later as Roberts hauled in a 69-yard TD reception from Abbott for the 31-6 lead.10 comments on this story
“We ask a lot of our quarterback. We ask him to read a lot at the line of scrimmage. We want to make things easy, but the defense wants to make things hard, and so that’s the challenge for anybody who plays quarterback in our offense,” said Behm. “Boone is prepared, he’s gotten better each and every week and tonight you could see he was reading the defense and he was getting the ball where it needed to go.”
Abbott finished the game completing 21 of 34 passes for 259 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Roberts and Downing.