Football

High school football: Syracuse rallies past Brighton in Week 2

Box score

It wasn’t Week 1, but for Brighton and Syracuse’s coaches Thursday night’s Week 2 tilt must’ve felt more like a season opener with the overall lack of offensive efficiency both ways.

In crunch time though, Syracuse’s offense came up with the plays it needed to ultimately rally for the 23-17 road victory in a game that featured three interceptions for both teams.

The Titans trailed heading into the fourth quarter, but scored three times in the final 8:02, including the go-ahead 18-yard TD reception from Shaun Blanton with 2:48 left.

It was the most efficient drive of the entire game for Syracuse on an otherwise frustrating night compared to the ease of last week’s win.

“It felt like we could never get control of the football game, ever, they were doing a good job with their scheme. They were probably feeling the same thing,” said Syracuse coach Mike Knight.

Syracuse dominated Riverton 38-0 in Week 1, and Knight speculated that there was some panic from his players when Thursday’s game didn’t start out so swimmingly.

“I think last week was an easy football game for us. So the kids kind of panicked a little bit early on, ‘like oh, it’s not this easy right now, and so we had some adversity, which is great early and then coming away with the win. The best teaching tool a coach can have,” said Knight.

The rest of Syracuse’s nonregion slate features Herriman, Taylorsville and Syracuse before Region 1 play begins.

Of Syracuse’s seven drives that didn’t end in points on Thursday — excluding the final minute kneel down — three ended interception, one a fake field goal, two were punts and another a turnover on downs.

There was simply no continuity from drive to drive — until the fourth quarter.

Trailing 17-10 early in the fourth quarter, Syracuse was set up with great field position on a 36-yard catch from DJ Mayes, but the drive went backward from there as it settled for a Rhett Thompson 42-yard field goal cutting the deficit to 17-13.

Brighton’s ensuing drive stalled and Syracuse once against was set up with great field position.

Syracuse responded with an eight-play scoring drive to take the 20-17 lead with just 2:48 remaining in the game. The drive was aided with a third-and-11 pass interference penalty that changed the entire complexion of the.

Syracuse quarterback Jake Hopkins converted a key third and 2 scramble for two yard late in the drive, and after a measurement confirmed the first down, he connected with Blanton on the go-head score 20-17.

Syracuse’s defense again got a quick stop as Brighton elected not to punt from deep in its own territory, with the offense kicking another field goal without getting first down for the 23-17 lead.

During that short drive, Knight was aggressive with his offensive play calling instead of playing it conservatively and making Brighton burn its three timeouts. Knight had no problem with it.

“It looked bad and gave them two timeouts, but I want to be aggressive, and I trust the kids and I tell them that every year. When I trust you guys I’m going to go for it and I’m going to put it in your hands,” said Knight.

Brighton still had 1:59 remaining as it took the field for a potential go-ahead score, but the drive stalled after two first downs. It was a great finish for Syracuse’s defense, which limited Brighton’s QB to 8 of 20 passing in the fourth quarter, including four straight incompletions to end the game from the 46 yard line.

“This was a really skilled team that we played, they were working out there, but we were just gritty. It was a tougher game, but we were able to push through in the end,” said Syracuse senior cornerback Keller Facer, who grabbed two of Syracuse’s three first-half interceptions.

Syracuse led 10-7 at the half highlighted by a trick play 54-yard TD pass from wide receiver Blanton to fellow receiver Mayes.

Brighton’s lone score of the first half was a 30-yard TD pass from Jack Johnson to Myles Peters, but it seemed to simply the offense coming out of halftime to great results.

It tied the game 10-10 at the 7:27 mark of the third quarter on a Drake Fletcher 34-yard field goal. The drive stalled with a snap over the QB’s head on first and goal from the eight.

On the next drive, the Bengals went 72 yards in nine plays with Beau Fa Fleur scoring on a 10-yard TD run for the 17-10 lead at the 1:29 mark of the third quarter.

The big plays just weren’t there in the fourth quarter for Brighton as the visiting Titans showed the same defensive grit that earned it the Region 1 title a year ago.

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