By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
Excitement was in the air during the build-up to the Bingham vs. Bishop Gorman rematch Friday night in South Jordan and it was justified. The Gaels are ranked No. 1 in the nation among high school football teams, and with good reason. And the Miners are still a really good football team.
The final score wasn’t as close as most local fans would have liked…it certainly wasn’t a repeat of last year’s overtime contest in Las Vegas, but in the 38-20 defeat, there were a lot of interesting stories. Here are some of the things that caught my attention Friday night at Bingham:
1) Momentum turns quickly
This really isn’t news, we see it all the time, but it doesn’t take long from a fickle thing like momentum to jump from one sideline to the other. Too many of the swings during this game went in the direction of the Gaels, and that’s why they came out on top, but change a couple of those moments and it’s a different game.
This Bishop Gorman team is extremely talented, and it was going to take a huge effort and some positive breaks for the Miners to win the game, but overall, Bingham was competitive Friday night.
The Gaels grabbed control of the game right out of the gate with a long 10-play drive, but that ended when Bingham’s Tongi Langi recovered a fumble in the end zone. That was momentum swing No. 1.
After a swap of punts, with Bishop Gorman working into a stiff wind, the Miners had a short field and a chance to take the lead. The -5 yard Gaels’ punt put Bingham in business with a first down at the Gorman 27-yard-line. Momentum swing No. 2.
Unfortunately for the Miners, after getting as far as the 3-yard-line, they went backwards on a center snap miscue, and then Bishop Gorman’s Haskell Garrett intercepted a pass to keep the game scoreless.
The Gaels seized control from there, scoring on a 55-yard Tate Martell to Tyjon Lindsey connection on the first play of the second quarter to take the 7-0 lead. By halftime, Bishop Gorman turned that into a 17-0 advantage.
Swing No. 4 went to the Miners early in the third as they flipped the field with a punt that went out of bounds at the Bishop Gorman three. After Bingham’s defense forced a three-and-out, it was another 27-yard field for the Miners.
This time, back-up quarterback Matt Degn connected with sophomore receiver Brayden Cosper for a 20-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-13 play to get Bingham on the board, down 17-6.
The final momentum swing was the big one, and it was decisive for the Gaels. After a big tackle-for-loss by Langi put Bishop Gorman into a difficult third-down situation that resulted in an incomplete pass, it looked like the Miners would be in business again. But, a defensive holding penalty set up the Gaels for a second stab at third down, and Biaggio Walsh broke free for a 72-yard scoring run.
That was followed by a big play from the Bishop Gorman defense, as Damuzhea Bolden picked off a Degn pass and took it back 76 yards for a score that essentially iced the game.
2) Bingham defense
Bishop Gorman is loaded with offensive talent, size and speed. With Martell at quarterback, combined with Walsh and Lindsey, the Gaels will be tough for anyone to match up.
That said, Tongi Langi, Langi Tuifua, Parker Workman and this Miner defense made enough plays to show that they can play at this level. The Gaels did break off a few big plays, largely due to the extreme athletes they bring to the party, but Bingham showed that it plays hard and that it can compete even with this kind of team.
3) Running game
With players like Garrett, a 6-2, 262-pound defensive lineman and 6-2, 210-pound linebacker Palaie Gaoteote in a stout defensive front seven, it was tough sledding for the Miner running backs. That did not stop Elvis Vakapuna and Jahvontay Smith from running hard and absorbing a ton of contact.
Vakapuna finished with 57 yards on 12 carries, and he earned every one of those yards. It seems that the Miner running attack may be on the verge of a huge night in the very near future when the number of Division 1 athletes on the opposing defense is greatly decreased.
4) Degn to Cosper
It’s hard to know how much the score and timing in the game contributed to what was happening in the Bingham passing game Friday night. Senior starting quarterback Keaton Torre seemed to be a bit unsettled and off target much of the night, as he completed just 1-of-11 passes.
The Miners first inserted Degn into the game on a couple of running plays, splitting time with Torre, but by the fourth quarter he was taking all the snaps. The junior did at least enough to provide some comfort for the coaching staff in knowing he can do some things in the passing game, as he completed 7-of-11 for 143 yards and three scoring tosses, along with that one interception.
On the other, end sophomore Brayden Cosper proved that he is able to get separation against very talented defensive backs and that is great news on the Bingham side of the ledger. He caught all three of those touchdown passes, covering 20, 18 and 25 yards.
5) Bishop Gorman is really good
This isn’t exactly news, but while it was certainly not fun for local fans to see the final score of this game, if you appreciate great players, there were plenty to go around on both sides of the field.
Martell (16-25-233-1 and eight carries for 49 yards and a score), Walsh (15 carries, 150 yards, two TDs) and Lindsey (six catches, 137 yards, TD) were all well worth the effort to get out to this game.