SALT LAKE CITY — Corner Canyon’s Cole Hagen made Rice-Eccles Stadium his own personal playground, and the American Fork defense couldn’t dial up a way to slow him down.
The Chargers’ sensational quarterback accounted for 425 yards and four touchdowns, leading Corner Canyon (14-0) to a dominating 49-14 victory against American Fork in the Class 6A state championship game on Friday.
It was Corner Canyon’s second straight state title after winning the Class 5A crown last season.
Hagen completed 24 of 36 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns — three to Noah Kjar — and ran for 76 yards while leading the Chargers to seven touchdowns on their first nine possessions.
American Fork (10-5) — the No. 7 seed coming into the playoffs — was able to move the ball against Corner Canyon. But the Chargers had four interceptions and Hagen passed and ran through the Cavemen defense at will. Dylan Simons scored on three short touchdown runs for Corner Canyon but it was Hagen and a stingy defense that set those up.
“We got a couple of stops in the first half on a fourth down and a turnover,” American Fork coach Aaron Behm said. “And that was great. That was what we were asking our defense to do and that was different than the first time we played them. We just didn’t move the ball as well as we wanted to offensively once we got the stop and turnover.”
Corner Canyon’s first drive of the game was a gem. The Chargers moved 77 yards on 16 plays, converting a third-and-10 as well as three fourth downs. On fourth-and-7, Hagen found Kjar wide open on a 14-yard touchdown pass and took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
American Fork’s Peyton Wilson made a terrific play to intercept Hagen in the second quarter, laying out horizontally and giving the Cavemen some life.
But two plays later a tipped pass resulted in an interception for Corner Canyon’s Dustin Millich, and the Chargers cashed in on a 5-yard scoring run by Simons for a 14-0 advantage.
American Fork responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended in Jaxon Gregory rumbling 34 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 3:47 remaining in the half.
Corner Canyon came right back with a 49-yard bomb from Hagen to Talmage Handley to the AF 31. Three plays later, Hagen connected with Kjar on a 15-yard scoring pass for a 21-7 lead.
Millich notched his second interception on American Fork’s next possession and it took Corner Canyon just six plays to find the end zone again. Hagen avoided the blitz with a nifty screen pass to John Glavin, who strolled in from 14 yards out. The Chargers took a 28-7 lead into the break.
Corner Canyon ended any Caveman hopes for a comeback by scoring on its first two possessions of the second half, the second coming after an interception by Quinn Andra, for a 42-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
BYU commit Josh Wilson led Corner Canyon with 16 tackles, including seven solo stops.
Devin Downing, who has also committed to the Cougars, had seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. He finished the season with 101 catches for 1,743 yards and 23 scores.
“Devin just comes and makes the most of every opportunity he gets,” Behm said. “That was a great touchdown catch he had in second half and he just battled the rest of the game. I don’t know where his stats ended up, but he’s a playmaker.”
Gregory was effective for the Cavemen on the ground, finishing with 146 yards and a touchdown.
“We really just came in thinking we were going to do what we’ve been doing the past 15 weeks,” Gregory said. “We wanted to just come and play hard and give it our all. The last couple of weeks we really started to play together as a team and focus on each other. Everybody just bought into the process. We love the challenge and love each other.”
American Fork was trying to win its first state football title since 1962.
Behm told his team after the game that last year some of the players came up to him and apologized after the 6A title loss to Lone Peak. This year he told them, “No apologies.”
“We’re proud of these kids because of who they are and what they’ve done becoming great young men,” Behm said. “It doesn’t matter if this (trophy) has a 1 or a 2 on it, they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do.
“The senior class is leaving a legacy, getting back here two years in a row. I don’t think anyone thought we’d be here at this point six months ago and those guys just worked. That’s why they’re here. Hopefully that’s a great example that our juniors and sophomore are paying attention to.”