South Jordan • After being shut out for three quarters, Bingham took advantage of special teams blunders by Valor Christian (Colo.) on Saturday and made a key defensive stop in overtime to win the anticipated matchup 21-20.
Senior running back Tonga Manu scored on a 1-yard catch with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter and again on the second play of overtime when he broke free to the right side for a 22-yard score.
“I believed in my team that we could drive it down on them,” Manu said. “We just got to believe and we did it.”
Valor Christian, winner of three straight state championships in Colorado, was led by Christian McCaffrey, son of former Denver Broncos star Ed McCaffrey. The junior scored three touchdowns, but in his role as punter had a disastrous fourth quarter. He shanked one punt and missed entirely on another, each leading to a Bingham touchdown. The second gave the Miners the ball at the 20-yard line, which set up the tying touchdown.
It wasn’t quite as easy as that, though. Bingham faced fourth down and 16 from the 26-yard line, when quarterback Jantzen Bowles, who splits the position with Coleman Stout, faked an end-around run and rushed the other way for a 17-yard gain. Manu pushed his way in for the score three plays later.
Bingham has consistently scheduled marquee games against out-of-state opponents. But in 2009 the Miners were dismanted by Euless Trinity (Texas) in Dallas and last year were blown out against Orange Lutheran (Calif.). Coach Dave Peck said he told his team that they needed to make a good showing against Valor Christian, or he was inclined to stop scheduling out-of-state games.
No need for that now, although for much of the game Bingham seemed overmatched. McCaffrey and quarterback Luke Del Rio, son of Broncos assistant and former NFL head coach Jack Del Rio, were connected all night, carving up the Bingham secondary.
“We talked about McCaffrey the whole week,” Bingham junior safety Sky Manu said.
They never did quite figure out how to stop him. McCaffrey put Valor Christian in position to win the game, rushing for a 6-yard score in overtime. Rather than kick the point after and tie the game, however, the Eagles opted to go for two and Del Rio’s pass was batted down.
It was a solid recovery for Bingham, which needed momentum after losing to rival Alta a week earlier at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“It’s big,” Tonga Manu said. “We lost by a point last week to Alta, and this week showed we’re not giving up.”
Storylines Miners scrape by Eagles
R Bingham’s Tonga Manu sends the game into overtime with a touchdown catch with 27 seconds left in regulation.
• Valor Christian’s last-minute 2-point attempt in OT is batted down.