By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
SOUTH JORDAN – The stands were full an hour before the 7 p.m. kick-off, including a standing-room only gathering the ringed the stadium at Bingham High School Friday night. The No. 1 ranked high school football team in the nation was in town to take on one of Utah’s finest.
Bingham was up to the task, at least for a while, but the Miners were unable to get their offense untracked early enough to keep pace with the offensive weapons Bishop Gorman brought to the part, and by the time they did find some answers in that area, it was too late. The Gaels built up a 17-0 advantage in the first half and then made all of the critical plays all night long to make that stand up for a 38-20 win.
Bishop Gorman was hot right out of the gate as heralded junior quarterback Tate Martell connected with senior receiver Brandon Gahagan for 29 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage. The Gaels then ran off a 10-play drive that ate up more than four minutes but ended badly when Haskell Garrett fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it was recovered by Bingham defensive back Tongi Langi.
The Miners were unable to move the ball, but then got a defensive stop. A strong south wind played a role much of the night, and its first appearance came as a break for Bingham after its defense forced a Gael punt.
Martell’s kick sailed sideways and landed out of bounds at the Bishop Gorman 27-yard-line for a net of -5 yards, and the Miners had a short field with a chance to get the first lead. A 20-yard burst by running back Elvis Vakapuna followed by an illegal substitution penalty had the Miners on the doorstep, first-and-goal at the 3-yard-line.
The ensuing center was a bit high and went over the head of quarterback Keaton Torre. The result of the play was a loss of 14 yards and Bingham came up empty two downs later when Torre was chased from the pocket and three one up for grabs. The pass was intercepted by Garrett.
Martell hit Tyjon Lindsey for 24 yards to move Bishop Gorman out towards midfield, and then on the first play of the second stanza, with the wind now at his back, the Gael passer connected once again with Lindsey, this time of a 55 yards and a touchdown, the first points of the contest.
Martell, Lindsey and running back Biaggio Walsh caused problems for Bingham all night long.
Walsh scored the game’s second touchdown on a 15-yard scamper with 2:49 left before intermission and with the Miners’ passing game non-existent before the break, the Gaels took full advantage and managed to tack on a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the half to lead 17-0.
Torre was 0-for-5 passing at the break as Bingham struggled to find anything consistent in its offense. The senior completed his first pass of the game early in the third quarter, an 11-yard hook-up with Tyler Topham. As it turned out, it was Torre’s only completion of the night.
Being Bingham, this team continued to fight, and in the early stages of the third, the Miners gave themselves a chance to make a game of it. Their first drive of the second half stalled out, but Torre’s punt, with the wind, rolled out of bounds at the 3-yard-line.
Bingham’s defense stepped up and kept Bishop Gorman with its back to the goal line, and another short punt against the wind gave the Miners another short-field chance, this time at the Gaels’ 27. A heads-up play by sophomore receiver Brayden Cosper kept the drive alive and Bingham finally put a number up on the scoreboard.
That play came on third-and-15 at the 32-yard-line. Torre’s pass down the seam appeared to be out of Cosper’s reach, but the wideout drew contact from a defender in the area and was rewarded with a pass interference call.
Three running plays went backwards from there for the Miners and they were on the 20-yard-line facing a fourth-and-13. At this point, Coach John Lambourne was alternating quarterbacks and Matt Degn was under center. The first pass from the junior was an on-target slant route to Cosper, who carried it the rest of the way for the score.
The extra point was no good, but the Miners were on the board, trailing 17-6.
Just when it looked like Bingham would get another possession to cut further into that lead, an incomplete third-down pass, on third-and-12, from Bishop Gorman was bailed out by a defensive hold, and the Gaels got another chance with a third-and-two. The sequence of plays that followed that penalty allowed Bishop Gorman to pull away.
First came a 72-yard scoring run by Walsh on the play right after the penalty. Then, after a shor kick-off and strong return gave the Miners the ball at the Bishop Gorman 37, Degn’s pass was intercepted by Damuzhea Bolden, who took it back 76 yards to the house to make the lead 31-6 with just under two minutes left in the third.
Degn hit Cosper twice for fourth-quarter touchdowns to keep things interesting for the Bingham faithful, but all that did was improve the final margin of defeat.
Degn finished the game hitting 7-of-11 passes for 143 yards and those three touchdowns, while Cosper had four catches for 93 yards and those three scores. Vakapuna carried 12 times for 57 yards for the Miners (2-1), who open Region 3 play at West Jordan (2-1) next Friday night.