Friday night’s Utah 4A state final at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium was an aggressively one-sided affair, with suburban Salt Lake City power Orem blowing out Southwestern Utah mainstay Dixie (St. George), 60-13, for the program’s second consecutive state title.
But it was doubly sweet for the Golden Tigers’ superstar wide receiver, Puka Nacua, who ran seemingly wherever he wanted on the Flyers’ secondary for another dominant night, catching nine balls for 182 yards and two touchdowns. His second score of the night, coming in the fourth quarter, set the state single-season touchdown receptions record, at 26.
“A goal I came in my freshman year [wanting] was to be all over the record book and I felt accomplished a little bit of that this year,” Nacua told the Salt Lake Tribune after the game.
For the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Nacua, a USC commit and a Midseason ALL-USA West Region Offensive Player of the Year, that puts a very nice bow on what’s been a transcendent season for the ages. By MaxPreps’ measures, Nacua’s 2,336 receiving yards in 14 games are the most in the country this year; his 103 catches and 26 TDs also rank in the top five.
“There’s not a better receiver to ever come through here,” Orem coach Jeremy Hill told the Tribune. “It just shows the kid is so smart, athletic and just — he loves this, which makes it special for all of us to be around him.”
What kind of receiver is USC getting? Trojan fans have to be pleased to see these kinds of plays happen with regularity:
Nacua leaves Orem with 57 career touchdown catches, with all but seven of them coming since the start of the 2017 season.
How long will Nacua’s record stand? The previous record of 25 was only a week old when he broke it. Before that, the record of 24 was set just four seasons ago.