It was a lethal, and telling, combination that Desert Vista has come to know all too well this season.
The Thunder offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense couldn’t get to the sideline on Friday night in a continuation of an ugly trend against Division II power Centennial in a 33-16 road defeat.
Unofficially, the Desert Vista (3-4) had only three first-half first downs and ran 15 plays, while the Coyotes (6-1) converted 8 of 10 third down plays (10 of 14 overall and 3 of 4 on fourth down) to extend drives and ran 38 plays.
Considering the score was just 13-10 in favor of Centennial the effects didn’t really show up until the second half when the Coyotes wore down the tuckered out Thunder defense while amassing 455 yards, including 351 on the ground
“It’s kind of the story of our season,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “The offense hasn’t been able to have long drives and the defense can’t get the big stops. It’s not a pretty combination.”
The Coyotes were pretty impressive with three-man running attack as sophomore Quentin Gomez (8 for 112, TD), junior Dedrick Young (15-105, 2 TDs) and senior Matt Rodriguez (18-75) did most of the damage.
Young missed the first quarter after missing a practice during the week for a physical reasons, meaning per team rules, he couldn’t start.
Additionally, Centennial quarterback Daniel Smith threw two first-half touchdowns and finished 11 of 20 for 104 yards with a red zone interception.
Centennial piled up 243 yards rushing in the second half alone and the defense was stingy, allowing 99 yards rushing and 176 total yards, while the special teams blocked a punt and had two kickoff returns into Thunder territory to set up short fields for the offense.
“We have to give credit to our offensive line and the backs who ran hard,” Centennial coach Richard Taylor said, “but we had way too many mistakes. With the offense we are running now we can’t be doing that. It was disappointing and disheartening the way we played tonight. Even though we came away with a win, we have to understand, this is not good.”
The Thunder had their own problems, but most of it stemmed from the defense’s inability to get off the field.
“We did what we wanted to in a sense because we got them to third down, but we weren’t able to close the deal,” senior linebacker Matt Trujillo said. “We can’t have that. We have to finish and get the ball back.”
The offense is looking for an identity as sophomore Alex Farina became the third starting quarterback of the season, but was unable to pile up many yards or first downs in the early going as the Centennial defense only allowed two plays over 5 yards, one of which was a 31-yard touchdown run by Cullen Van Gosen, in the first half.
In the fourth quarter, Farina strung together a nice scoring drive that was finished off with strike to Jason King in the seam for a 17-yard touchdown.
“(Quarterback coach Don) Rezac said Farina kept getting better all week and I think he did during the game, too,” Hinds said. “He’s going to be a good one, but we need to start winning games now.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.