Draper • For the past two weeks, Corner Canyon junior running back Austin Bell hasn’t been able to practice. As the rest of his Chargers teammates geared up to open the season against the Orem Tigers, he stood on the sidelines and watched.

But he was available in Thursday night’s opener, running in three of Corner Canyon’s four touchdowns en route to a 30-14 win over Orem.

“We probably should’ve rode him more,” Chargers coach Eric Kjar said of Bell.

Tigers senior running back Noah Sewell, a five-star recruit, did not play in the game. He participated in the pregame coin toss and wore a walking boot on his right foot.

Bell gave the Chargers the lead in late in the second quarter that they didn’t give up afterward. With the game tied at 14-all, Corner Canyon was in good field position after its defense forced a turnover and Orem was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Two plays went nowhere before Bell rushed 21 yards for a touchdown and a 21-14 lead.

Bell also was the last player to score in the game. Late in the fourth, with the game seemingly already in hand, Bell got the ball on three consecutive plays of 10-plus yards, the last being a 14-yard rush into the end zone for a 30-14 lead.

“That man’s a stud,” senior defensive lineman Van Fillinger said.

A highly anticipated matchup between two reigning state champions was full of intrigue early before one of them lost momentum and petered out. Orem put together an impressive scoring drive early and was tied twice, but Corner Canyon didn’t allow a single point after that.

“I thought our defense settled in really good after the first couple of drives,” Kjar

said. “After that, they settled in really well and played really strong for us. Kind of carried us, I felt like.”

Tigers running back Buju Tuisavura broke open the scoring in the first quarter with an 11-yard run. The play came as a result of a 12-play drive that spanned about four minutes and saw junior quarterback Micah Fe’a complete all of his six passes.

It didn’t take long for the Chargers to answer, however. Two plays totaling 66 yards leveled the score at 7-7. Senior quarterback Cole Hagen threw a 24-yard pass to junior Noah Kjar before he rushed 42 yards himself into the end zone.

Corner Canyon put another TD on the board quickly after that. Bell gave the Chargers a 14-7 lead with a 10-yard run and just two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Orem tied the game again early in the second quarter. The Tigers defense turned the Chargers over with a sack of Hagen. Fe’a only needed two pass plays to Cayden Viertel for a 14-14 deadlock, the last of which was a 24-yard pass.

That was the last time the Tigers roared.

Orem came into the game as last season’s 4A champions. Corner Canyon, meanwhile, won the 5A title last year. Both teams were moved up a classification for the 2019-21 alignment set by the Utah High School Activities Association.

With the loss, Orem starts its quest for a third straight state championship on the wrong foot. The Chargers felt overall that they could have played better, but were pleased to leave the first game of the season with a win.

“Always starting off on a good note, that’s always the best thing we can do,” Hagen said.

And as for Bell, he made a resounding return to the lineup on a team that will surely content for another state championship of its own.

“It was hard not to be able to play,” Bell said. “But it’s good to be back.”