For the second straight year, the Orem football team took on a 6A powerhouse in the season-opener.
For the second straight year, the Tigers hung tough and showed they can compete with anyone.
But for the second straight year, Orem’s goal of proving it is the best team in the state came up short.
The Tigers — who lost to Bingham to start the 2018 season – went on the road Thursday night to take on Corner Canyon. Orem was only down by seven points in the fourth quarter but the Chargers built a big enough cushion to get the 30-14 win.
“We learned a lot about ourselves tonight,” Tiger assistant coach Gabe Sewell said. “Guys stepped up and gave it their best effort. They showed things that I don’t know if they thought they could do in the beginning.”
Even without star linebacker/running back Noah Sewell, who was held out of the game as he returns from an injury, Orem gave the Chargers everything they could handle. If not for a costly sequence in the final period, the Tigers might’ve had a chance to force overtime late in the contest.
Trailing 21-14, Orem was forced to punt from deep in its own territory. A bad snap sailed out of the back of the end zone, giving Corner Canyon two points for the safety and the ball.
The Chargers took advantage of the big break, getting a nice return on the ensuing punt and then three big runs from bruising running back Austin Bell. The last went for 14 yards and the final touchdown of the game, sealing the victory for the home team.
“This game is about who capitalizes on turnovers and makes the fewest mistakes,” Gabe Sewell said. “We made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage. Those are things we’ve got to fix.”
Orem started the game in impressive fashion, stopping Corner Canyon and then marching 80 yards to the end zone. Running back Buju Tuisavura finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers the 7-0 lead.
The Chargers answered with a pair of big plays, scoring on a 38-yard run by quarterback Cole Hagen to tie the game.
Corner Canyon forced an Orem fumble and Bell rumbled in from seven yards out to give the Chargers the lead and the momentum.
But the Tiger defense made the next big play, stuffing Corner Canyon on a fouth-and-3 to force a turnover on downs near midfield.
Orem’s offense took advantage of the break, getting a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Micah Fe’a to receiver Cayden Viertel to again tie the game early in the second quarter.
The Charger defense then flipped the script, getting a fourth-down stop of their own and turning it into Bell’s second score of the game (this one from 21 yards out) to take the lead for good.
Both defenses stepped up in the third quarter, setting up the final momentum shift in favor of Corner Canyon to end the game.
“Our defense did great overall,” Sewell said. “They were put in some tough situations but they held stout on the field a long time. But they were on the field a long time and in the end we ran out of gas. That’s something we have to address as a team.”
Even though the Tigers didn’t get the win they wanted, Sewell said he saw a lot of things he liked from this 2019 Orem team.
“You always want to win but you can learn a lot from losing,” Sewell said. “You learn what you can and can’t do, and what you need to take back to the drawing board.”
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers (0-1) as they play at Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman on Aug. 23.