SALT LAKE CITY — After Corner Canyon scored on back-to-back defensive touchdowns 15 seconds apart late in the first half, it looked like the top-ranked Chargers were poised to run away from Skyridge in Thursday’s 5A semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
A couple hours later those players and coaches stood stunned on the sideline after Skyridge capped an improbable 34-33 comeback after Corner Canyon’s botched field-goal attempt on the final play of the game.
A defense that allowed only 10.4 ppg throughout the season surrendered 21 points in the second half, including a two-play, 69-yard drive with under minutes remaining.
An offense, meanwhile, that came into the game averaging 41.3 ppg struggled with any form of consistency with just one scoring drive in the second half.
“(The defense) has been huge for us all year, but every once and a while that might happen,” said Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar. “But offensively we should’ve taken business earlier.”
Much of those offensive miscues had to do with Skyridge’s defense which ranked second in 5A coming into the game, but Kjar said many of the mistakes were self-inflicted in the run game and with protection in the passing game.
“Execution-wise when we have a chance to kind of jump on them and keep them down that we just didn’t take care,” said Kjar.
It was a very tough pill to swallow for Corner Canyon, which came into the 5A semifinals with a perfect 11-0 record and seemed the heavy favorite to cap the playoffs with a perfect record.
“This team, we have a lot of skill. Great scheme, we could’ve taken this as far as we wanted,” said Corner Canyon quarterback Zach Wilson, who’s been hobbled the last month and a half of the season with a high ankle sprained that really limited his effectiveness in the running game.
He finished with just 35 yards on 23 carries. Before the injury he rushed for over 100 yards in four of Corner Canyon’s first six games.
With Wilson limited in his running ability that allowed Skyridge’s defense to come with pressure in the passing game and it frustrated Wilson much of the game.
Even after Skyridge went ahead 34-33 on a touchdown with 1:02 remaining, Corner Canyon was still in a position to try and win with 62 seconds remaining and Boise State-bound Wilson leading the way.
Wilson helped move Corner Canyon into field-goal range with three completions, but two bad snaps hampered the drive — including a bad snap on a 50-yard field goal try with two seconds remaining.
“It’s definitely tough. We had lots of opportunities. You feel for the kids. It’s hard,” said Kjar. “It’s a good one to learn from too, there’s a lot of things we can be better at for sure. We didn’t make enough plays to take care of business today.”