Horizon was an opportunistic football team Friday night, taking advantage of key turnovers from a St. Mary's team still reeling from last week's loss to rival Brophy.
The Huskies (8-1, 3-1 Desert Valley Region) converted two of three St. Mary’s turnovers into touchdowns in the first half as they built up a 21-0 lead en route to a 24-14 victory.
Horizon grabbed sole possession of second place in the Desert Valley Region and may also get a first-round home playoff game due to the victory. The Huskies close out the regular season next week against Paradise Valley.
“Our goal was to get into the playoffs and I think we've secured that,’’ Horizon coach Steve Casey said.
Horizon’s offense didn’t have to do much to get its 21-point halftime lead.
“It was a great first half for our defense,’’ Casey said. The Huskies came into the game having shut out three of their previous four opponents.
Horizon's longest scoring drive of the first half was 37 yards and it took just two plays. Running back Oscar Alvarez carried the ball 29 yards to the Knights’ 8-yard line on first down, then scored on a run up the middle on the next play to put Horizon up 7-0. Alvarez finished the game with 105 yards rushing on 16 carries.
St. Mary’s, when it held on to the football, moved it. But three first-half drives ended with turnovers, all by quarterback Aaron Verlinde, who was 6-of-11 passing for 67 yards and three interceptions.
Late in the first half, St. Mary’s had a third-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Verlinde’s pass was intercepted by Jack Mora in the end zone and he returned it 90 yards to the St. Mary’s 12-yard line. Mora, a sophomore, added another interception late in the fourth quarter.
After Mora's first interception, Horizon scored on another two-play drive with Alvarez gaining 11 yards on the first play and Dax Crum scoring from 1 yard out on a quarterback sneak.
Against a defense set up to stop the Horizon passing attack, Crum was 7-of-17 passing for 45 yards and one touchdown, a 9-yard toss to Kevin McCluskey.
St. Mary’s running back Keaton Kristick had scoring runs of 3 and 10 yards in the second half.