SYRACUSE -- The 'Big Game' won't take place until later this evening, but on Friday night on the Titans' home field, Syracuse's Kavika Fonua and Northridge's Dayan Lake foreshadowed a bright future for BYU.
The future Cougars strung together a highlight reel of big plays. Lake returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score and later added a 62-yard scoring run off of a screen pass, but Fonua got the upper hand with three touchdowns, 163 yards rushing and the win as Syracuse earned a 45-27 Region 1 victory coming off their first loss to Davis a week ago.
"I just thought our kids did a great job preparing," Syracuse coach Russ Jones said. "They came out with a great attitude after we got beat last week. Our practices were awesome. Our kids really got after it. We had a lot of emotions. We had a lot of kids flying around yelling and screaming. It was one of the best practice weeks I've ever been in. They wanted to prove a point tonight. They felt bad about the loss last week."
Things couldn't have gone much worse for the Knights out of the gate. Northridge fumbled the opening kickoff giving Syracuse the ball on the Knight 15. Three plays into the game Fonua broke the plane of the goal line from a yard out to make it 7-0.
Northridge bounced back and drove the length of the field to the Syracuse 4 before coming away empty-handed on a fourth down interception. After failing to put more than 21 points on the scoreboard in any game this season -- and managing only seven against the Darts -- the Titan offense may have gotten on track behind an 11-play, 99-yard drive following the turnover. Trevor Olsen capped the possession with a 15-yard run.
The Knights answered with Lake's kickoff return but the Titans kept the pressure on by continuing to capitalize on Northridge's miscues. A muffed handoff by Northridge was smothered in the end zone by Caden Call to extend the Titans' lead to 24-6 with 9:32 left in the second period.
Nate Kusuda found Jace Colby on a 23-yard dart to narrow the gap, but again the Titans answered when Fonua outraced the defense after catching a screen pass from Kole Tracy for an 80-yard touchdown.
Northridge had one final shot of getting back into the game when Lake narrowed the deficit to 31-20 with 4:33 left in the third quarter, but the Kusuda was injured on the play and he didn't return.
Fonua then secured the homecoming victory by scoring on runs of 21 yards and 44 yards down the stretch.