Early in the second quarter, a snap slipped through Corner Canyon High School senior Caden Johnson’s hands and into his team’s end zone. His instinct, like that of many football players, was to recover the ball to save the possession.

Johnson did just that, but it resulted in a safety and two-point deficit for the Chargers. For many players, that mistake would have left a bad taste in their mouth, and maybe been a bad omen for the remainder of the game.

But not Johnson. He put that play out of his mind en route to the game-winning touchdown that helped Corner Canyon advance to the Class 5A state championship game with a 20-15 win over the Olympus Titans on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“The snap going through his hands, it really, really felt bad,” Chargers coach Eric Kjar said. “I couldn’t even say anything to him just because he’s that type of kid. But I knew he’d respond. He’s just that way.”

Johnson tallied 83 rushing yards on 15 carries, several of which came on the final drive that culminated in his only touchdown of the game. Junior quarterback Cole Hagen went 15 of 21 for 220 yards but threw three interceptions. Senior wide receiver John Mitchell amassed 130 passing yards on eight receptions.

Corner Canyon trailed 15-14 with 1:55 remaining in the game after a scoreless third quarter. It got within 14 yards of the end zone after a conversion on third-and-10, and Johnson followed that with three consecutive runs that led to a 1-yard touchdown.

“It’s full four-quarter game,” Johnson said. “Mistakes happen, especially in games like this. You just have to come back and keep fighting. That’s all you can do.”

After a slow offensive start by both teams, senior running back Tommy Poulton ran in a 32-yard touchdown with 4:41 left in the first quarter to give Olympus a 7-0 lead. But less than a minute into the second, Mitchell caught a 15-yard pass in the corner of end zone after snatching it away from Titans junior Scotty Edwards, avoiding an interception and tying the game.

Down 9-7 after Johnson’s earlier miscue, Hagen’s 46-yard pass to Mitchell put the Chargers at the 3-yard line. Austin Bell ran for a touchdown on the next play, giving Corner Canyon a 14-9 advantage with 4:19 remaining in the half.

Olympus regained the lead when senior quarterback Jackson Frank completed a 29-yard pass to senior Noah Bennee. The Titans missed the extra-point kick, which kept their lead at 15-14 with 1:22 left in the second quarter.

Both teams entered Friday’s game with undefeated records. Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead embraced and congratulated some of his players, some of whom were in tears after the game.

“When you’re 12-0 and you take your first loss and it’s a very close game like that — you’re that far away from playing for a state championship — that’s a tough pill to swallow,” Whitehead said.

Corner Canyon will face Skyridge for the 5A title next Friday.

Skyridge 42, Roy 15

The Falcons advanced to their second 5A state championship game in as many seasons with a blowout win over the Royals. Skyridge used a 21-0 second quarter to pull away.

“The thing I love about our guys is they keep focused on the day-to-day," Skyridge coach Jon Lehman said. “I don’t even know if our guys know that next week’s the championship. It’s just Week 14.”

Orem 62, Pine View 20

The Tigers sprinted to a 40-0 lead and never looked back as they advanced to the 4A championship game with the blowout over the Panthers. Orem will play Dixie next week for the 4A title.

“They’re a good team,” Orem coach Jeremy Hill said of Dixie. “They got a lot of tradition, a lot of history. ... Excited for the matchup because I’ve actually never coached against them. I’m looking forward to it.”


Schedule
Saturday’s games
At Weber State
Class 2A championship
South Summit vs. Grant County, 11 a.m.
Class 1A championship
Duchesne vs. Milford, 1:30 p.m.
Class 3A championship
North Sanpete vs. Summit Academy, 4 p.m. 


Friday, Nov. 16 games
At Rice-Eccles Stadium, University of Utah
Class 4A championship
Dixie vs. Orem, 11 a.m.
Class 6A championship
American Fork vs. Lone Peak, 2:30 p.m.
Class 5A championship
Skyridge vs. Corner Canyon, 6 p.m.