Turnovers always make the difference in football games, and Friday night’s 4A-I quarterfinal between Phoenix Paradise Valley and Tucson Canyon del Oro was no exception.
The sixth-seeded Dorados turned two Paradise Valley fumbles into 10 points, and that helped spark Canyon del Oro to a 27-20 win at Paradise Valley. The Dorados advance to face Scottsdale Chaparral in the state semifinals.
“We knew we had to gut it out. We’re not going to give up, and neither did they,” Canyon del Oro running back Griffin Ronstadt said. “We stuck it out long enough to get the win. It was an unbelievable game.”
Despite trailing 27-7 late in the game, third-seeded Paradise Valley didn’t give up and scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Trojans quarterback Kevin Spain found Westin Diehl for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 6:16 left to draw the Trojans to within 27-14. After a Dorado three-and-out, the Trojans stormed back down the field, and Tyree Parker hammered into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it 27-20 with 1:57 left. The extra point was blocked.
The Trojans (9-3) tried an onside kick, but the Dorados recovered.
“These kids don’t quit,” Paradise Valley coach Donnie Yantis said. “These kids are blue collar. We work our butts off, never quit and play to the last whistle.”
The Dorados (11-1) were powered by an unstoppable ground game.
Ronstadt ran for 206 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries while Kadeem Carey gained 119 yards and scored a touchdown on 20 carries.
“We know Ronstadt is our go-to guy, and tonight we had Carey back for the first time in a long time, and he’s a nice dual weapon,” Dorados coach Pat Nugent said. “Both of those guys had a great night tonight.”
Canyon del Oro took advantage of a Trojans fumble in the second quarter and cashed it in for a touchdown. The handoff between Spain and Jake Brown was botched, and Paul Carter recovered it for the Dorados at the Trojans 39-yard line. Seven plays later, quarterback Doug Steele took the plunge from 1 yard out and put the Dorados up 10-0, and the rout was on.