Salpointe drove 73 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just more than a minute left to defeat Chaparral, 27-20, in a Division II football matchup on Friday.
The third-ranked Lancers had been held in check most of the game but used a 54-yard completion from Andrew Cota to wide receiver Cameron Denson to set up Johnny Pena's 5-yard scoring run with 1:17 remaining.
Chaparral had a chance to tie and was driving when wideout Tyler Whiley lost a fumble after a 12-yard completion, effectively ending the game.
The Firebird offense struggled mightily in the first half, converting just two first downs. Sophomore quarterback Sean Paul Brophy had a hard time getting into the game and completed only half of his first half passes.
Still, Chaparral led the Salpointe 13-10 at the half, thanks to a stifling defense that produced an interception by senior Jake Roh on the first play of the game. Robbie Kleifield of the Firebirds would recover a muffed punt two drives later, which lead to a touchdown pass.
Linebacker Shane Aldrich also recovered a fumble and ran it back 35 yards to Salpointe Catholic’s 12-yard line.
The play of the game for Chaparral was a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brophy to Whiley on third and 20 that gave them a 20-13 lead halfway through the third quarter. It would mark the longest play from scrimmage for the Firebirds as well as their final score of the contest.
Salpointe Catholic took better care of the ball in the second half, while quarterback Cota was much sharper and completed six of his nine second half passes for 115 yards. He was 14 for 27 overall with two touchdowns. He also ran for 50 yards.
To energize his offense, Chaparral coach Dave Huffine tried running a wild cat direct-snap offense with running back Justin Paniagua late in the third.
“We felt like we wanted to give a different look to what we could do,” said Huffine after the game. “It’s a work in progress. These are things that going to evolve throughout the season and as the season progresses we’ll add more things to it.”
After a 10-yard run at the start of the experiment, the set fizzled for the next two drives before it was abandoned.
Chaparral lost a total of four fumbles in the game and committed 11 penalties for 99 yards, which are errors Huffine doesn’t expect to be a problem for his team going forward.
“I like the direction we’re headed. We’ve just got to clean up the mistakes throughout the ball game and we’ll do that.”
Score by quarters
Salpointe 7 3 10 7 -- 27
Chaparral 6 7 7 0 -- 20
First downs: Salpointe: 10. Chaparral: 6.
Rushes - Yards: Salpointe: 36-102. Chaparral: 27-63.
Passing Yards: Salpointe: 207. Chaparral: 104.
Comp-Att-Int: Salpointe: 14-27-0. Chaparral: 13-27-0.
Fumbles-Lost: Salpointe: 6-2. Chaparral: 4-4.
Penalties-Yards: Salpointe: 7-65. Chaparral: 11-99.
CHS: Sam McReynolds 31 FG
CHS: Sam McReynolds 38 FG
SC: Conor Craddock 43 pass from Cota (Luke Bakewell kick)
CHS: Jordin Hamilton 13 pass from Brophy (Sam McReynolds kick)
SC: Luke Bakewell 20 FG
SC: Luke Bakewell 41 FG
CHS: Tyler Whiley 26 pass from Brophy (Alex Mychaels kick)
SC: Andrew Cota 10 run (Luke Bakewell kick)
SC: Johnny Pena 5 run (Luke Bakewell kick)