HERRIMAN — After a disappointing loss in the 6A state championship game last year, American Fork reached another goal Friday night and avenged a loss to the Herriman Mustangs at the same time.
Known primarily for their passing offense, the seventh-seeded Cavemen relied on Jaxon Gregory’s 151 rushing yards and a stout defense to dispatch No. 2 Herriman 28-14 in a 6A quarterfinal contest.
“I wouldn’t call it (going to Rice-Eccles) a tradition, but we’ll take it. We knew we would have to play tough defense and execute on offense. When we stopped them (the Mustangs) from scoring just before halftime, that was big.” — American Fork coach Aaron Behm
The Cavemen then celebrated their upcoming visit to the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium for the second straight year, where they will face East, a team they defeated 57-45 earlier this season.
“I wouldn’t call it (going to Rice-Eccles) a tradition, but we’ll take it,” said American Fork coach Aaron Behm. “We knew we would have to play tough defense and execute on offense. When we stopped them (the Mustangs) from scoring just before halftime, that was big.”
The Cavemen also benefited from being injury-free. They were beaten up in that early-September East game and then limped into Herriman the following week with starters like Noah Moeaki, Bodie Schoonover and Maddux Madsen on the bench. Only Madsen got any playing time.
This time, all were healthy and active. Madsen threw for only 135 yards but had Gregory to help carry the offensive load. Gregory scored the Cavemen’s first touchdown on their second drive, and then, after Herriman rallied to get within 21-14 in the fourth quarter, he took the ball on six of American Fork’s next eight plays.
“We didn’t want it (the season) to end,” Gregory said. “We needed someone to take over on offense.”
Gregory did just that, finishing the drive with a 13-yard run, juking two Herriman defenders to reach the end zone with 5:45 left.
Gregory has been a big part of American Fork’s offense all season, but the Cavemen also got creative to minimize Herriman’s physical play. Gregory’s first touchdown came on a 17-play drive and on fourth down. A few minutes later, the Cavemen made it 14-0 on a trick play 57-yard touchdown pass from Easton Greening to Devin Downing.
Herriman had used its big offensive line to open big holes on the Cavemen last time. The Mustangs kept the ball away from the American Fork offense and then dominated the fourth quarter. But since they trailed this whole game, the Mustangs chose to rely more on the pass, and quarterback Jaxon James had just 65 aerial yards — most of which came after the outcome was decided.
Herriman had just one offensive touchdown, keyed by a 58-yard run by Kepu Fifita. Its other score came on a 55-yard interception return by Ngana Leakehe. The Mustangs also missed two field goals in the third quarter and by the final period gave up on running attack altogether.
“We gave up a couple of big plays …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News