Losing when you’re outmanned and against better athletes is one thing. Losing when you don’t play up to your capabilities is another.
But that’s where Horizon found itself in a 42-24 Division II, non-section loss at Glendale Deer Valley.
“We didn’t play the way we should,” Horizon coach Steve Casey said. “We did not play to our capabilities. We did not take advantage of the opportunities we had.”
Case in point: On their first drive of the game, the Huskies had a 17-play drive that covered 58 yards over nearly eight minutes. Horizon got as far as the Deer Valley 17-yard line. On fourth-and-4, the Huskies had an illegal procedure penalty and then their running play fell well short of a first down.
During that drive, Husky receivers dropped two passes, including a certain touchdown.
“This has been our pattern all year,” Casey said. “We have kids who should know better.”
On Deer Valley’s ensuing drive, Horizon linebacker Cody Verley intercepted a Skyhawks pass. Four plays later Horizon fumbled on its own 13.
The Skyhawks (4-0) immediately took a 6-0 lead on Chris Landrum’s 2-yard plunge.
After falling behind 14-0, Horizon (2-2) made the first of several “comebacks.” Quarterback Kyle Woods’ 24-yard run cut Deer Valley’s lead in half.
On the next play from scrimmage, the Husky defense flushed Deer Valley quarterback Auston Hillman out of the pocket. Scrambling to avoid a sack, Hillman broke through a couple of arm tackles and ended up scoring an 80-yard touchdown.
“I was shocked,” Hillman said about the run.
In the fourth quarter, over the course of 20 seconds, the Huskies made their final push. Ryan Neel returned a kickoff. On the ensuing kickoff, the Huskies cover team forced a fumble recovered by Josh Farrington. On the next play Woods connected with Spencer Marciniak on an 18-yard touchdown pass, making the score 35-24.
And true to game form, the Skyhawks then went on a 12-play, five-minute scoring drive.