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DRAPER — Any vulnerabilities shown by top-ranked Corner Canyon after the Chargers trailed 10-7 at the end of the first quarter against Skyridge were eviscerated on the first drive of the second.
After recovering a muffed punt at the 14-yard line, the Falcons were held to three plays and a missed 39-yard field goal — including fantastic end-zone coverage by the Chargers and a brutal false start penalty.
Whether by mistakes or play, it'll take more to than arguably the top defense in Class 6A — one that held the Chargers under 100 rushing yards — dethrone the three-time defending state champions.
Devin Brown threw for 459 yards and four touchdowns, and Jett Meine hauled in seven catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers pulled away from the second-ranked Falcons 38-23 Friday night in the KSL.com Game of the Week.
But to know how the Chargers (7-0, 2-0 Region 4), who stretched their winning streak to 47 games with consecutive wins in Region 4 play, spun around the Titanic, it's best to look at the defense.
Fresh off a recruiting visit to Oregon, Harrison Taggart had two tackles for loss and an interception, and Corner Canyon held the Falcons (6-1, 1-1 Region 4) scoreless on all but one of their seven second-half offensive drives to suffocate the region rival.
"Sometimes we get a little too hyped up, and halftime is our time to refocus and stay under control. But this is a rivalry game," said Taggart, who also narrowed down his list to USC, UCLA, Arizona and Utah. "It's a tough matchup; give credit to them."
For as much credit as Skyridge's defense has received through the first half of the 2021 season — and well deserved, for a team that allowed just 16 points all year with four shutouts and averaged a 31.3 points per margin of victory in six games — Corner Canyon showed its defense worked well enough, too.
"Our defense played great and kind of carried us a little bit," Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar admitted. "Our offense made enough big plays to keep them on the heels. But that's a good defense; by far, the best defense we've played. They bring a lot of pressures and do a lot of things that make things difficult on you."
It also showed why Oregon coach Mario Cristobal was personally recruiting Taggart during the senior's recent visit to Eugene.
"It was really fun," Taggart said of the trip, from which he got home Monday morning. "It was an insane environment, and I wasn't even able to catch too big of a game. But I did get to see my guy Jackson Powers (Light) get in, and still saw an insane environment. I loved it, I had a great time with the coaches, and am going from there."
Corner Canyon had just 155 yards of offense in the first half, outgained by 14 yards to Skyridge. And the Falcons had an early advantage, thanks in large part to McCae Hillstead's 41-yard strike to BYU target Smith Snowden with 3:14 minutes left in the first quarter and Joseph Brandt pushed the Falcons' lead to 10-7 with a 54-yard field goal in the final minute of the first quarter.
But everything changed on the first drive of the second quarter for Corner Canyon, down 10-7 and defending a short field. And it changed on defense.
"We got marched on hard (in the first quarter), all the way down to the red zone," Taggart said. "That kind of hit us. It was time to focus up and get our crap together, play as a team, and make some plays."
After scoring on two of its first three drives, Skyridge was held scoreless on five consecutive possessions to end the half — including a missed field goal after recovering a muffed punt on the 14-yard line to end the first quarter.
"That gave us so much confidence and so much momentum, with a great student section behind us," said Taggart. "It's a fun game."
Taggart had two tackles for loss before the break, and the Falcons ran for just 35 yards before the break while Brown dropped a 69-yard strike to Meine and Dylan Carlson added a 6-yard scoring run to put the Chargers turn a 10-7 deficit into a 21-10 advantage.
"Coach Kjar gave us a talk right before the second quarter," Meine said. "He told us to get after it, get some nasty in us, and to keep going."
Highlights of CC's 47th Straight Win! @HSFBamerica@Zack_Poff_MP@usatodayhss@KjarEric@dbrownqb33@M11Jett@HarrisonTaggar4@taylorharris_21@Malula8_@KofeTre@CarlsenDylan@codychristense@BlazeDegracie@kslsports@DNewsPreps@PrepUtah@MooseB90@bangulo@bcavi68@coach_OFFApic.twitter.com/Rg6Ic6XNil— CornerCanyonFootball (@CCHSFOOTBALL_) September 25, 2021
Brown and his receivers went to work after the break. Cody Hagen caught six passes for 91 yards — most of them in double coverage — and Blaze DeGracie finished with four catches for 63 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown that helped the Chargers put the game away for good.
"Our receivers made some big plays down the field, and we were able to protect better in the second half. But Devin played a big-time game. I was proud of him."
After an early punt on the first possession, Brown hit Meine with an 80-yard strike down the far sideline to go up 7-0. Then after trailing 10-7, the USC commit again found Meine with a 69-yard perimeter play to put the Chargers up 14-10 with 9:21 left in the half.
"I know with my size and my speed, I can beat that man-press vertically," Meine said. "And I trust in my quarterback, Devin. He's a baller, and he's gonna put it in the right spot for me."
Brown added touchdown passes for 23 yards to Tre Kofe and 42 yards to Blaze DeGracie, while also scrambling for another 30 yards on a night where Skyridge stacked the line to slow the run game.
Hillstead threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, and Smith Snowden added a 75-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter for the Falcons, who host Pleasant Grove next Friday.
Corner Canyon can tie Duchesne's state record of 48 consecutive wins next Friday at Westlake. If the Chargers win, they'll have a shot to break the record Thursday, Oct. 7 at home against Lone Peak.