SALT LAKE CITY — Watching Woods Cross mount a six minute scoring drive on the game's opening possession seemed like a bad omen for Olympus.
The Titans proved unable to prevent the Wildcats from moving the chains on one run play after another. Such textbook ball control meant Olympus needed to find an answer and fast.
"They just pounded it on us and we tried to respond with a good touchdown," junior quarterback Scott Porter said.
The Titans not only matched that initial touchdown but also managed to shut down Woods Cross for the next two quarters en route to a 35-28 victory on Friday night.
Porter directed the offense to touchdowns on three of its four first-half possessions. The junior completed 14-of-23 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a pair of interceptions, one of which led to a late Wildcat score.
Still, Olympus coach Mike Smith had nothing but praise for Porter's accuracy in just his fourth game back after sitting out a season with an ACL injury.
"He was right on the numbers," Smith said. "Scott is going to be a very good football player."
Porter certainly made a difference in helping Olympus respond to Woods Cross after the Wildcats went 75 yards in 15 plays — capped off by a 1 yard keeper by Tyler Parson — to take a 7-0 lead with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
On the Titans' subsequent drive, he completed a pair of huge passes to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Jordan Archibald that tied the game at 7-7. Porter then completed five of seven passes for 64 yards — with the final one being a three yard strike to Nick Johnson in the middle of the end zone — to put Olympus up 14-7 with 3:33 left before halftime.
Disaster almost struck for the Titans when Adam Hales returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to make it 14-14. But Porter steadied the team again with a pair of huge pass plays, including a 24-yarder to Spencer Lindsley for his second touchdown, to put Olympus back up 21-14 with 1:15 remaining in the half.
Porter credited the defense with making his job easier by holding Woods Cross in check after that opening drive.
"Our defense just stepped up," Porter said. "They played awesome and gave us great field position the whole night."
A important defensive play came on the final play of the half when Sam Williams batted down a potential touchdown pass in the end zone. It preserved the lead for the Titans and set the stage for a big third quarter.
Once again, it was the defense that furthered the momentum swing toward Olympus in the second half. Moments after Hales intercepted Porter at the 50 yard line, Nico Bronzati recovered a fumble on a hook and ladder play and returned it 45 yards the other way to make it 28-14 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
The Titans then stopped the Wildcats inside the Olympus 5 yard line on fourth down and drove 95 yards the other way to go ahead 31-14 on a two-yard touchdown plunge by Brandon McBride.
Those plays helped Olympus survive a late rally when Woods Cross forced a fumble and an interception on back-to-back possessions. It helped the Wildcats claw back to within the game.
Tyler Parson made big plays on both scoring drives — throwing a 21 yard TD pass to Darchon Taggart and vaulting into the end zone from 15 yards out – to make it 35-28 with 35.0 seconds left.
Smith felt relieved that Woods Cross ran out of time to complete the rally.
"They're the big play kings of the world, so they can get back into any game they want to get back into," Smith said.
- Brad Rock: Bowl drama shows BYU not going...
- Dick Harmon: BYU basketball strength coach...
- Utah offensive coordinator Dave Christensen...
- Video: Former USU running back Robert...
- Brady Poppinga: Confronting an unlikely opponent
- Both BYU and Memphis to review bowl game brawl
- Jazz rookie Dante Exum looks like a kid but...
- Utah Jazz legend John Stockton, Weber State...
- Wild one: Memphis edges BYU in... 174
- Sitake, Tuiaki leaving Utah for Oregon... 116
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in free-for-all... 97
- Dick Harmon: Cougar bowl loss kind of... 59
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in brawl between... 52
- Brad Rock: Bowl drama shows BYU not... 51
- Both BYU and Memphis to review bowl... 48
- Report: Video games experts, BYU head... 45