SYRACUSE — In what could be described as a war of defensive wills, the Syracuse Titans clipped the wings of the Skyline Eagles in their second preview game of the season.
Syracuse came into Friday night's match-up ready for a battle, knowing full well that Skyline had the highest winning percentage of any school in Utah. The Eagles' 14 state football championships would cause any opposing team to take notice.
Titan coach Mike Knight said, “This was a hard-fought ballgame. Skyline has a lot of tradition. When it comes to football, its hard to beat the tenacity and winning tradition of the Eagles. Skyline is a well-coached team, and they came ready to play.”
Opening the first quarter with a kickoff by Eagle Izic Yapias that sailed into the end zone, the Titans took possession at the 20-yard line but failed to move into scoring position. Both teams traveled into the red zone but were denied defensively. With only 33 seconds left in the quarter, Skyline was stopped at the Titan 15-yard line, leaving both teams scoreless at 0-0.
A second quarter Eagle field goal attempt was blocked by defensive back Alex Vanderloo, setting into motion another series of back and forth offensive jousts by both teams. Eight and a half minutes into the quarter, Titan quarterback Trevor Davis completed a five-yard pass to tight end Matt Dunston, who ran it into the end zone. Kyle Coffey sent the extra point through the posts to put Syracuse on the board 7-0.
Third-quarter offensive stumbling saw both Syracuse and Skyline rack up penalties. In an effort to avoid Titan powerhouse right defensive end Hunter Dimick, Skyline sent passes and plays consistently to the left but was unable to convert those efforts to points. Braedon Holbrook made several key stops for Syracuse, and the third quarter ended as it started, at 7-0.
Determined not to be shut out in the fourth period, Eagles quarterback Zac Williams handed off to Maurice Mapps, who went up the middle for a touchdown, followed by a successful extra point that brought the score to 7-7. Their kick-off to the Titans resulted in another touch back, bringing the ball out to the Syracuse 20-yard line.
Davis answered with a pass to Diante Mitchell, who ran for a 75-yard touchdown reception. The Skyline defense blocked the extra point by Coffey, but the Titans had pulled ahead, 13-7, with nearly 11 minutes left in the quarter.
Tanner Joliffe, (averaging 38 yards per kick during the game), sent the ball out to Skyline, where it stopped on the 30-yard line. Heavy defensive pressure was exerted by Hunter Dimick as his connect with Eagles quarterback Williams resulted in a pass interception — deflected first by Vanderloo and picked off by Shane Russell.
Syracuse then garnered back-to-back penalties and Skyline moved into scoring territory again with 1:24 left on the clock. The Titans regained possession with 37.6 seconds on the clock via an intercepted pitch by Miles Naisbett, for a 63-yard run to the 7-yard line. With 20.6 seconds left, Davis took a knee after the snap, and the game ended with a win for Syracuse, 13-7.
“The game came down to our determined defense, who stepped up to secure the win,” said Syracuse coach Jared Martin. “The pass to Diante Mitchell was a big play — a real momentum builder in the final minutes of the game. Mason Woodward was also a solid contributor, with 22 carries for 85 yards.”
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company