Tempe Prep shut out Valley Christian Thursday, 14-0, in convincingly defensive fashion.
Early in the game it was evident that sophomore quarterback T.J. Widner was making his first start for the Trojans. His throws were off-target and the ones that appeared on-the-mark often went through the hands of young receivers.
Valley Christian finished the game with 11 first downs, and had the ball in the red zone multiple times, but missed its best chance at points when a 25-yard field goal went wide.
Taking advantage of the Trojans' struggles, the Knights (2-0) struck early on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Forest Redlin to receiver Gasper Tonnesen. Tonnesen was the only Knights offensive player to catch a pass in the game, as Redlin and Tonnesen connected three times for 58 yards.
“We made some big plays on defense, we gave up a lot of first downs but the defense made big plays when we needed it the most.” Tempe Prep coach Thomas Brittain said.
Later in the second quarter, Valley Christian threatened again, but Widner overthrew his receiver, and Tempe Prep cornerback Nathan Hiser picked off the pass and returned it 79 yards for the Knights' final touchdown of the night as the Knights took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
Valley Christian kick returner Daniel Nelson returned the second-half kickoff to the Tempe Prep 44-yard line to spark what looked like a bit of momentum for the Trojans (0-2).
But the next play shattered those hopes after a missed exchange between the center and Widner resulted in another turnover.
Valley Christian's defense gave up only seven points through all four quarters and held the Knights to only 261 total yards. However, with a quarterback making his first start, and three different starting players out with injuries, the Trojans offense couldn't move. Widner finished the night 15-of-38 for 140 yards.
“We felt like (passing plays) was what Tempe was giving us, we were completing some passes but over throws and penalties put us in bad situations all night long.” Valley Christian coach Kevin Allen said.
Tempe's offense controlled the ball with their run game most of the night, running the ball 42 times for 203 yards. The Knights defense has given up only 14 points after their first two games, and quarterback Forest Redlin is willing to give them the credit.
“We're a ground and pound team," he said. "We run the ball hard and then play action pass every once in awhile. We let the defense win the game for us.”