SALT LAKE CITY — Puka Nacua will go down as one of the best receivers in Utah high school football history and further cemented his legacy in Orem’s 60-13 win over Dixie to claim back-to-back 4A state championships. Nacua led all receivers with nine catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
This season, Nacua set state records for season touchdown receptions (26), season receiving yards (2,336), career receiving yards (5,226), career touchdown receptions (58) and career receptions (260).
Nacua tied the state record for season touchdown receptions with his first touchdown of the game, a 12-yard reception from quarterback Cooper Legas.
Nacua couldn’t corral a couple of chances to break the record, and with Orem up comfortably, the Tigers targeted Nacua, trying to get him the record.
“We were very aware of where the touchdowns were and a couple other things, but we said, ‘Let’s just play our game.’ You saw last week, they kind of took him away, we ran the ball a bunch. We just try to keep within the flow of the game, but we knew he needed a couple of touchdowns, a couple receptions,” Orem head coach Jeremy Hill said.
Nacua’s record-breaking touchdown was one for the ages — a 55-yard touchdown pass to etch his name in the state record book once again.
“The rush that came over me, I just can’t explain the excitement of high school football, and just football in general for me has been absolutely amazing, especially doing it with these boys I’ve been playing with for a long time, it’s been so fun and amazing. Winning back-to-back, it’s tingling, it just gives me the chills to think about it,” Nacua said.
Nacua still remembers the touchdown that started it all, a 5-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Van Buren in a 52-16 win over Uintah in 2015.
“I still remember my first touchdown like it was yesterday. We were playing Uintah, we were going toward the north end zone my freshman year. We ran a quick five, double slants and I was the back slant, he threw it over him and I dove and I caught it. I looked up and was on my back looking up at the ref and he put his hands up,” Nacua said.
Nacau has earned praise from his coach and his quarterback for his stellar career.4 comments on this story
“I’m proud of him. There’s not a better receiver to ever come through here, and it shows. The kid is so smart, athletic, and he just loves this, which makes it special for all of us to be around him,” Hill said.
“I think it’s really cool. It’s mostly him, he’s just a beast. That record’s on him. Last year, he could have got the record last year, I just didn’t even know about the record last year, so I wasn’t really throwing to him, but this year is our last year to get it, so we just went for it and he got it because he’s the best receiver in the country,” Legas said.