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High school football: Sloppy at times, Herriman edges Westlake to build momentum heading into region play

Herriman’s Afa Kula (10) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the team’s first touchdown during a high school football game at Herriman High School in Herriman on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.
Herriman’s Afa Kula (10) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the team’s first touchdown during a high school football game at Herriman High School in Herriman on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

Box score

HERRIMAN — While tuning up for region play, any and all momentum matters.

After a miscue-filled and penalty-laden 17-15 victory for Herriman over previously undefeated Westlake Friday night, the Mustangs will compartmentalize any misfires and forge ahead with two wins in a row.

“It’s always nice to win, but it doesn’t feel real good when you have that many penalties,” Herriman coach Dustin Pearce said. “It’s not good football. We’ve got to be better.”

The first half was full of turnovers and miscues to the tune of two interceptions from Herriman quarterback Cody Lazenby and one pick thrown by Westlake quarterback Brayden Ross. The teams also combined for a botched field goal snap, a fumbled exchange, a blocked punt, a muffed punt and a missed field goal before the break.

Westlake broke open the scoring deadlock with a 42-yard field goal from Mason Bangerter with 11:55 left in the second quarter — capitalizing on a short field and the blocked punt recovered by junior Lance Benham.

Herriman got a gift of its own after Westlake muffed a punt on the ensuing possession, turning a short field into an 8-yard score from sophomore running back Afa Kula with 6:37 left until halftime.

Kula, who was thrust into duty in place of junior Nu’u Tafisi, finished with 115 yards of total offense.

“Great blocks on the inside and outside,” Kula said. “Everything I had was open. It made me have a great game.”

Westlake stormed out of halftime with a pick six score from senior defensive back Logan Ashton to take a 9-7 lead with 7:01 left in the third quarter, but had trouble finishing offensive drives all night to put pressure on Herriman’s defense.

Herriman answered with another 42-yard field goal from Bangerter, forced a turnover on downs and capped off a nine play, 64-yard drive with a 17-yard scoring scamper from Lazenby in consecutive drives — providing 17-9 cushion with 6:33 left in the game.

“I’ve been trying to get Cody to use his legs this whole preseason and he did a good job,” Pearce said. “He’s a big, strong kid that can run through some tackles.”

Westlake made it interesting late, as senior backup quarterback Zachary Childs lofted a pass down the left sideline to senior Brayden Perry for a 46-yard scoring strike to make it 17-15 with 1:57 left in the game but fell 1 yard short on the two-point conversion attempt on another toss from Childs to Perry.

After a pair of consecutive wins decided by a total of five points, Pearce said his team apparently “likes to keep things interesting.”

“You’ve just got to keep playing,” Pearce said. “Be sound, play your assignment, do your job.”