Ahead of its 5A semifinal game against Bingham, the Syracuse football team was wondering where all its luck had gone.
It was almost a curse. Six inches away from a trip to the finals last year, the undefeated Titans were hoping to make it up this season. But a season-ending injury to quarterback Brock Anderson and few other starters made Syracuse wonder why fate was frowning at it.
But by Thursday afternoon, it seemed the Titans had found their lucky charms. Bingham fumbled time after time, and the ball always seemed to find its way into Syracuse hands during the Titans' 21-16 upset of the Miners.
Maybe it was that little extra motivation that desire to fight ill fortune that made the difference.
"We just approached it as everybody needs to do their job, and play that much harder, and dig that much deeper," defensive lineman Cardon Malan said. "Yeah, we had a couple key players go missing, but we all needed to step up. That's the only way we can win."
That's what Syracuse did, especially on defense. Although Bingham managed 304 yards and Hayden Weichers ran wild on a depleted secondary when he got the ball, the Titans had knack for knocking out the ball at key times.
Three sacks helped Syracuse get their hands on the ball, as well as a long reception that was stopped near midfield, and a muffed punt that Bingham couldn't jump on. It wasn't just any one player with butterfingers four different players fumbled.
But even giving up five total turnovers, Bingham fought back. The Miners came as close as the Syracuse 15 with only 50 seconds left.
On fourth and 2, the Titans needed as much luck as they could get. Diante Mitchell couldn't help but think about the year before, when he had stretched out for a touchdown but had come up short.
This year, the inches went Syracuse's way.
"As soon as I saw them that close, I said, 'Please, just be short in our advantage this time,' " Mitchell said. "Last year, it was us [that lost], but this year it was our advantage. I'm happy."
• The Titans come up with a 5-2 turnover advantage that helps them to victory.
• Four different Miners fumble the ball for Bingham, all recovered by Syracuse.