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Kjar's 3 TDs help Corner Canyon shrug off slow start, pull away from Pleasant Grove in Region 4 opener

Corner Canyon hosts Pleasant Grove in a Region 4 high school football opener, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 in Draper.

(Sean Walker, KSL.com)


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Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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DRAPER — If top-ranked Corner Canyon’s offense felt like it stalled early in the team’s Region 4 opener against Pleasant Grove to anyone watching, the Chargers felt it, too.

Once they shifted gears, though, the team that averages 48.7 points per game hummed like a V-8 engine.

Jaxson Dart threw for four touchdowns, including three to Noah Kjar that bridged the second and third quarter, and ran for another score to help the Chargers pull away for a 38-7 win over Pleasant Grove to open Region 4 play in the KSL.com Game of the Week for Week 6 of the high school football season.

Cody Hagen added a touchdown for the Chargers (6-0, 1-0 Region 4), who shut out the Vikings’ high-powered offense from the middle of the second quarter on.

“We just had to readjust at halftime to what their defense was running,” Kjar said. “Then we just made plays.

“I think we came out a little flat, and at halftime, the coaches got us going.”

That included forcing a fourth-down fumble on the 4-yard line to open the fourth quarter, and the Chargers' player who recovered it — defensive back Tyler Harris — added an interception on the Vikings’ next offensive series, as well.

“Ryan Cahoon, the safety, is a pretty dynamic player for us, and he creates a lot of turnovers — whether he gets the turnover or not. He just creates disruption,” Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar said. “We’ve got a lot of guys like that who just do a great job flying around and giving us energy, and when they get a big defensive stand like that or create a turnover, it’s big.”

Dart found Noah Kjar for the quarterback’s third touchdown of the first half, nailing the receiver in stride as he trotted into the end zone for a 40-yard score with 22 seconds on the clock.

The senior quarterback also found Kjar on the Chargers’ opening drive, but the wideout was ruled out at the 1-yard line after catching a deep ball that zipped across nearly a quarter of the field, and Dart scored on a quarterback keeper on the next play.

The BYU target also had a 27-yard strike to Cody Hagen just moments after Pleasant Grove had equalized through Darrius Clemons’ 15-yard disrupted-play pass from Sam Leavitt with 5:21 left in the half to take a 14-7 lead four minutes before halftime.

It was a slow start. But once Corner Canyon shifted into gear, the Rolls Royce of the Chargers’ offense was humming.

“We realized it’s not nonregion play anymore; this is Region 4, the best region in the state,” the younger Kjar said. “We had to get out stuff together, offensively and defensively.”

Kjar. Hagen. Talmage Handley. Even without running back Austin Bell, Dart had plenty of weapons to shift a one-score game after Hagen’s touchdown with less than four minutes left in the half into cruise control by the final buzzer.

Kjar could’ve added another score, too, but his 52-yard reception from Dart was dragged down early to set up Carson Compton’s 22-yard field goal that capped the scoring.

Regardless, the energy of the second half made Corner Canyon look like the top-ranked team most expected.

“They just did a lot better job of executing what we were trying to do, offensively and defensively,” coach Kjar said. “We were like that last week a little at Alta; they went down and scored on us right away, and then we stopped them, kind of like today.

“Playing good teams, if you make mistakes, those guys are going to maximize them. We made a few, for sure — didn’t make the right read, or missed a block. We didn’t score on two or three drives, and that’s not acceptable for this group.”

On the same night that the Chargers were moved to two weeks of online schooling due to more than 70 positive test results for COVID-19, and with each first down run in honor of Charri Jensen, “Mama J,” the beloved Corner Canyon teacher recently intubated after contracting the virus, the football team — which ranked No. 1 in most statewide human polls — handed the No. 1 6A team in the UHSAA’s first RPI rating its first loss of the year.

Welcome to Region 4, though, the SEC of Utah high school football where the Chargers will face four of the top 10 teams in the state, starting next Thursday at Lone Peak.

“We know we’re up against it,” said Kjar, the head coach of the top-rated Chargers. “We know we have a really good region we’re playing against week in and week out. This sets a tone, gives us a really good start, but we know what’s ahead. They’re all good, just like this P.G. team is really good.”

Pleasant Grove (5-1, 0-1 Region 4), which was missing starting playmaker Rex Connors, will host undefeated Skyridge next Friday after the Falcons’ 41-9 win over American Fork.

Scoring summary

First quarter

CC — Jaxson Dart, 1-yard run (Compton kick)

Second quarter

PG — Darrius Clemons, 15-yard pass from Sam Leavitt

CC — Cody Hagen, 27-yard pass from Jaxson Dart (Compton kick)

CC — Noah Kjar, 40-yard pass from Jaxson Dart (Compton kick)

Third quarter

CC — Noah Kjar, 16-yard pass from Jaxson Dart (Compton kick)

CC — Noah Kjar, 27-yard pass from Jaxson Dart (Compton kick)

Fourth quarter

CC — Carson Compton, 22-yard FG

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