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High school football: Dominant Davis defense steals spotlight in season-opening win over Herriman

Davis’ defense held Herriman to just 110 yards of total offense in the big Week 1 road win.

Davis wide receiver Owen Murdock (6) catches the ball for a touchdown during a high school football game against Herriman at Herriman High School in Herriman on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Davis wide receiver Owen Murdock (6) catches the ball for a touchdown during a high school football game against Herriman at Herriman High School in Herriman on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

HERRIMAN — Herriman’s bread and butter has always been its defense, and a year ago it had the top-ranked scoring defense in 6A. On Thursday night though, in the opening game of the 2020 high school football season in Utah, it was Davis’ defense that took center stage.

Visiting Davis held Herriman to just four first downs and 110 yards of total offense, and outside of a couple of big chunk plays dominated on its way to the 24-20 victory.

“Our defense played fast, they play sound, coach (Colby) Bockwoldt and his defensive staff do great things,” said Davis coach Mitch Arquette.

Two of those chunk plays came on special teams, and another on a long passing touchdown, but Davis’ defense got the stops when it needed them most of the night and then sealed the win with a couple first downs, allowing the team to go into victory formation in the final minute.

“Great way to start the season off. Hopefully we can keep building off this and carry it over into our region play,” said Davis quarterback Chance Trujillo, who threw for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Spencer Ferguson was the workhorse offensively for the Darts as he carried the ball 32 times for 194 yards and one touchdown.

There was a lot of hype heading into Thursday’s game as the first high school game in the country, and before the game Arquette told his players to enjoy the night.

“It’s really the mantra of 2020, win the day. You don’t know when you’re going to get another. We really don’t. We could have our game canceled next week,” said Arquette.

For Herriman, even though its offense stalled most the night, it realistically enjoyed a near-perfect start to the game.

It forced Davis to punt after just one first down, had a big punt return from Brock Hollingsworth down inside the 20-yard line, and then scored two plays later as Nu’u Tafisi punched it in from 9 yards out.

That was the lone bright spot offensively though in the first half for Herriman as it had just one first down the rest of the half and trailed 21-7 at the break.

Conversely, Davis found its rhythm after that early punt.

The Darts responded to Herriman’s score with a quick score of its own as Ethan Healey hauled in a 2-yard TD pass from Trujillo to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive in less than three minutes.

On its next series, Davis again marched quickly and efficiently as Trujillo connected with Owen Murdock on an 11-yard TD pass for the 14-7 lead with 2:02 left in the first quarter.

Arquette said the response on those two drives was a great sign for the rest of the season.

“That showed tremendous maturity from last year. I think if that had happened to us last year we would’ve been in the tank,” said Arquette.

Later in the second quarter, Davis capitalized on a 51-yard punt return by David Spjut down inside the 10-yard line, with Ferguson darting around the corner for the 10-yard TD run and the 21-7 lead.

Davis pushed the lead to 24-7 on a Jackson Leaver field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but that’s when Herriman’s big plays kept things interesting.

Hollingsworth returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, and then on Herriman’s next drive four minutes later Zack Dern took a slant pass from Jack White and raced 69 yards to the end zone, cutting the deficit to 24-20 with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

“It was a slant for 70 yards and two special teams plays, without those it’s a whole different ball game,” said Arquette, whose defense didn’t give up a first down in the fourth quarter