Tempe handily won its first game of the season Friday night, spoiling Page’s homecoming, 27-14, despite a penalty-ridden performance in which the visitors drew 22 yellow flags for 157 yards.
“I feel fortunate to come out with a win, with the number of penalties we had,” said Tempe coach Mark Rhiner. “I felt like we improved. We got our first win, and we’re looking forward to region.
Tempe (1-4) led 27-0 in the third quarter after defensive back Donte Glaspie snagged a deflected Page pass and ran it back 54 yards for the score. But the Sand Devils made a game of it late, with quarterback Chris Cummings twice finding wideout Joey Smith in the end zone to cut the lead to 27-14. Cummings led Page on one more drive late that saw them almost reach the red zone, but a Tempe sack and an incomplete pass on fourth and long ended Page’s comeback hopes.
After a scoreless first quarter, Tempe got on the board early in the second when Santana Quintero took the ball up the middle on a misdirection play and outran two Page defenders for a 69-yard score. After the Buffaloes recovered a mishandled kickoff, Tempe QB Raul Alcala hit receiver John Layfield for a 30-yard scoring strike. Tempe scored again with 3:53 in the half, when Raheem Watkins ran it in from 7 yards out after a Page personal foul set up the Buffaloes’ field position. Kicker Veda Kettigna converted all three first-half point-after attempts, but missed his lone second-half attempt.
Tempe’s defense grabbed four Page fumbles and sacked Cummings twice.
In addition to his interception return for a touchdown, Glaspie also snagged a Cummings pass into the end zone in the first half to squelch a Page drive.
“All year long we’ve played some pretty good defense,” Rhiner said. “The biggest thing for us was to get our offense going a little bit. I thought we did a better job with our offense … as a unit. We’re still not where we need to be offensively.”