You can't come up with excuses. You've just got to go play the game. —Syracuse coach Russ Jones
SALT LAKE CITY — Several years ago, there was this terrific Hollywood movie about high school football titled "Remember the Titans."
And it was truly memorable.
But Friday afternoon, the Titans from Syracuse High came up with a frustrating, disheartening performance that, quite frankly, they'd just as soon forget.
Jordan High, led by its unstoppable offensive trio of Austin Kafentzis, Clay Moss and Mason Krueger, along with a dynamic defensive effort, manhandled previously unbeaten Syracuse 58-2 in the 5A state championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
For the Titans, it was a horrible ending to a tremendous season. And, heck, it probably could've been even worse.
After building an improbable 51-0 halftime margin, the Beetdiggers called the dogs off in the second half and only scored one more touchdown after intermission. But the damage had already been done in this one long before that.
"You can't come up with excuses. You've just got to go play the game," said Syracuse coach Russ Jones, whose team was without season-long starting quarterback Brock Anderson, who tore his Achilles tendon in the Titans' quarterfinal victory over Alta, but were still able to turn back Bingham in the semifinals before Friday's disappointing debacle. "... It definitely would've helped to have him.
"Our kids just played as hard as they could, but they didn't have a very good first half. ... We made so many mistakes in the first half as far as just dropped balls, fumbles, called the wrong plays. ... There's no excuses; we just needed to come out and play, and they outplayed us. Hats off to them.
"The way it started, we just couldn't get things rolling — we really couldn't. No matter what we did or what we tried, it just didn't seem to work. ... We didn't play worth a dang," Jones said. "It put us on our heels and I think our kids just never did get off and running and get in a good flow of anything. But they had a great season — 12-1 — and we'll take that any time."
Kafentzis, Jordan's stellar sophomore quarterback, threw for 237 yards (228 in the first half alone) and accounted for six touchdowns — three running and three passing, including two to Krueger (5 catches for 133 yards) and one to Moss, who also rushed for 134 yards and two more TDs.
All this against a Syracuse squad that had allowed an average of only 9.2 points per game before Friday — with a season-high of 24 — and had given up more than 16 points only once. Shoot, Jordan had 16 points just seven minutes into the game Friday.
It turned into the second-most lopsided loss in state championship history — and the worst since 1919. Syracuse managed minus-5 yards rushing and a scant 62 yards of total offense — the least since 1976 and the fourth-fewest all-time.5 comments on this story
The Titans, who didn't cross midfield until the third quarter, avoided the shutout and finally gave their large group of fans something to cheer about when Kavika Fonua tackled a Jordan ball-carrier in the end zone with 8:03 to go.
"We couldn't hold it together," said Fonua, a junior safety and running back. "We didn't play as a team. I don't know, we just didn't come out strong and we just went downhill from there.
"We're a lot better team than that. We'll try to get it started again next year."