Too big a hole, and too early. That was the assessment of Tempe McClintock coach Mike Gibbons after his Chargers fell behind dramatically to Goodyear Millennium in a 4A-I playoff game Friday night, and could not recover.
By the time the Chargers buckled their chin straps, they were behind by three touchdowns, and Millennium was on its way to a 45-21 win. The loss ended McClintock’s season at 5-6 while Millennium (9-2) advanced to the next round and will play at Peoria.
The Tigers crossed the goal line on six of their first seven possessions creating a malady for which the Chargers had no cure.
“Once we were behind 21-0, it was difficult to come back,” Gibbons acknowledged. “You can’t give a very good team like Millennium that kind of advantage. Plus, this is the playoffs, and the speed and intensity are cranked up a notch.”
Down 21-0 late in the opening session, the Chargers took possession on their 32-yard line. On that first and 10, senior quarterback Eric Urry hit Austin Johnson on a slant up the middle and Johnson did the rest.
The speedy 5-foot-11-inch senior outran the defense on his way to a 66-yard touchdown reception with 16 seconds before the end of the opening session.
Cutting the lead to 14, the Chargers’ Rodney Moracitz then recovered a fumble at the Tigers’ 40-yard line, but the drive stalled when Xavier Carrillo missed a 42-yard field goal with 9:47 remaining before intermission.
That was as close as the Chargers could draw, and the Tigers scored touchdowns on their next three possessions to forge a 35-14 halftime advantage. In between, Mike White powered in from the one for McClintock’s second touchdown.
Later, running back Hayden Tippett scored from one yard out with 1:52 left in the third quarter to complete the Chargers’ scoring.
Despite an early exit, Gibbons was proud that McClintock reached the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
“We’re building something here,” he said. “The seniors had a great year and left a terrific foundation. We’ll be back.”