First play from scrimmage, Palmer Ridge quarterback Luke McAllister hands off to junior Kaden Dudley.

He pauses on the right hash, cocks his arm back and releases a 77-yard pass to a wide-open Anthony Costanzo.

And just like that, 20 seconds into the 3A Central championship game between the Bears and Discovery Canyon, Palmer Ridge is on the board.

Any other team would have stumbled, especially after falling behind 14-0 minutes later after a dismal first drive.

But Discovery Canyon is no ordinary team -- at least now.

The Thunder scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter and continued swinging at the two-time 3A champions to lock in a 56-49 win over the Bears for the program's first conference championship since 2016.

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"I saw a different team tonight," said Discovery Canyon coach Shawn Mitchell, who told his team after the game, "Whatever you did tonight, keep doing it."

Discovery Canyon ended the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, with its win over Palmer Ridge likely giving the team a boost in the RPI when the 3A football brackets are released on Sunday.

"Tonight we played inspired football," Mitchell said. "It would have been really easy for us at some point to give up. After that first play from scrimmage it would have been really easy to say 'here we go again' but we just kept going and we didn't let that stuff affect us."

The 25 seniors on the Discovery Canyon roster remember the last time the Thunder won a conference championship, and remember weeks later losing in the state final.

But it wasn't necessarily a league title that motivated some of the seniors Thursday night.

"We really wanted some revenge after last year," said Discovery Canyon senior Kevin Frye. "After getting shut out and embarrassed (by Palmer Ridge). That was a really tough thing for us so we really just wanted to come out and show them that we are a different team and we're ready to hammer them."

Discovery Canyon entered the locker room buzzing after scoring three touchdowns, including two off turnovers, in the final six minute of the second quarter. The Thunder also knew they would get the ball back to start the second half.

Senior Marshall Pike had four rushing touchdowns including a 58-yard score late in the fourth quarter after Palmer Ridge came within six points.

"I had no idea we would beat Palmer Ridge in the fashion we did today. It's just lucid right now," Pike said. "Hell, we know if we're not the second-best team, we are the best team in the state right now which means we can go all the way."

Despite giving up three unanswered touchdowns and trailing heading into the locker room, Palmer Ridge continued to battle through the second half. The Bears scored chipped away at the deficit thanks in part to senior Raef Ruel, who came close to breaking 1,000 season rushing yards Thursday. Ruel ran in a 5-yard score and a 15-yarder to cut the deficit to six with five minutes remaining in regulation.

"I think the resiliency on our team is very strong and I think our leadership is very strong," said Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford. "There were points where it certainly could have gone the other way and we could have not fought back, but that's the way our kids have battled. We would have liked to have come out on top but our kids kept fighting and I'm very proud of that."

Costanzo finished with four touchdown catches, finishing the game with more than 200 yards on scoring plays alone. McAllister had four touchdown passes, three to Costanzo and a 25-yard toss to senior Deuce Roberson.

Discovery Canyon quarterback Jonah Isakson had two rushing touchdowns, including a 70-yarder to start the second half. Frye also had a 29-yard score to close the first half after the Thunder recovered a fumbled Palmer Ridge kickoff return.


Harrison 50, Mitchell 0

At Garry Berry Stadium: Jaseim Mitchell had four touchdowns — two passing, two rushing — as the Panthers exploded for 36 points in the first quarter en route to their second consecutive shutout victory in the Class 3A Southern League finale.

Harrison (9-1, 5-0) was so dominant that a running clock was enforced in the second quarter.

The Panthers completed back-to-back league titles with undefeated records. Thursday night's win helped put aside their 42-14 loss to Green Mountain in the season opener.

"It was a good game for our kids," Harrison coach Al Melo said. "We did what we had to do and played well."

The onslaught didn't start until 5 minutes left in the first quarter, when Romeo Wells marched in for a 1-yard score to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead. The senior went on to rush 13 times for 123 yards.

Harrison's Mitchell then went on a tear as he tossed two TDs and ran for two more during the Panthers' next four scores. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 61 yards and rushed six times for 73 yards.

Mitchell ended its season 1-9 overall.