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Herriman Comes Back To Beat West Valley

HS Boys

Herriman Comes Back To Beat West Valley

Fisher Jackson looking for room. Tony Barker photo.

IN a clash of two very highly-ranked teams in Utah, Herriman came back from an early deficit to defeat a physical West Valley side 27-14 on Saturday.

This was a matchup that featured the defending Utah State Champions from the Club (West Valley) and Single School (Herriman) divisions. The Utah snow has kept most teams from playing or even practicing much outdoors, so both team were grateful to get on the field.  It was the first game for West Valley, while Herriman was coming off of a 42-5 victory over United at the Ra Puriri Classic the previous week.

Herriman was sloppy early on, with several promising possessions turned over due to poor ball handling and a lack of patience that resulted from pressing on the attack and trying to do a little too much at times.  West Valley was opportunistic and used Herriman’s poor ball retention to go on the attack, pounding the hosts with a big, physical pack and some hard running in the backs.  Herriman got the ball back and received advantage from a penalty, but were called for not releasing on the subsequent ruck without gaining any territory and a penalty was given to West Valley, who kicked to touch near the goal line.  Herriman held several times and held up two potential scores, but West Valley would finally touch across from a 5 meter scrum to take a 7-0 lead.  

Herriman, who had little trouble moving the ball when they were able to keep it in hand, won the restart on went on attack, but two separate trips less than 10 meters away from the try line yielded zero points from a ruck infringement and a knock on, and West Valley was able to clear.  Two big, weaving runs set the visitors up nicely near the goal line once again, but Herriman was able to force a knock on.  However, in a strange repeat of the previous score, advantage did not seem to have been played. The Mustangs immediately missed on a connection following the knock and passed the ball through the back of the try zone and West Valley was awarded a 5 meter scrum.  More pounding and prodding eventually wore down Herriman and gave West Valley a 14-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the half.

Fisher Jackson did well to take Mariano Delgado’s perfectly placed restart, and Kingi Fisi’ipeau flipped the field several times with a variety of kicks ahead. With 11 minutes left before the half, captain Jake Barker decided enough was enough, powering through 3 would be tacklers each on two successive runs and willing his team down inside the 22.  Back in to space, Connor Hyde weaved through traffic inside of 5 meters before the ball found Jackson in the corner for Herriman’s first score, 14-5.

Herriman added a second score immediately with some fireworks and some missed execution.  West Valley was whistled for a penalty on the kickoff, and Herriman’s kick failed to find touch, but a streaking Tanner Foulger went high in the air to field the errant kick in full stride, and the speedster outran the stunned visitors for a converted try to close the margin to 2 at 14-12 going in to the half.

The second half was a back and forth affair for several minutes, with both teams impressing with renewed execution and a desire to strike first.  Barker was dominant in the lineout and kept the Warriors off balance with quick taps, strong tackling, and hard running, while Fisi’ipeau kept them at bay with the boot and some nice tackling of his own.  Big runs by Jackson, Kody Eggers, and Alec Perschon got Herriman deep in to West Valley territory and a quick tap yielded a follow up penalty from 22 meters out which Delgado slotted to give Herriman its first lead at 15-14.

Delgado missed a penalty attempt a few minutes later, but Herriman turned the ball over and stayed on the attack, with Barker and Jackson continuing to probe the defensive line at every opportunity, resulting in the payoff for Barker’s stellar performance with a hard fought try.  The narrowly missed conversion put the Mustangs up 20-14 and kept the momentum on their side.

West Valley furiously attempted to get the lead back several times, but they were continually turned away by a Herriman team that put forth a renewed effort on the defensive front, meeting the larger opposition behind the gain line and pressuring with swarming gang tackles to force handling errors.  When West Valley attempted to relieve the pressure by kicking, Hyde and company were there to answer with deft counterattacks.  West Valley’s defensive line was holding strong and proved difficult to break, but the hosts showed more patience with the ball than early on, and Jackson dotted down for his second try of the day to put the game out of reach at 27-14.