Campo Verde stuck to the defensive game plan on Friday and beat Tempe, 26-14. The Coyotes (5-2) brought pressure early and often on the Buffaloes dynamic offense, led by quarterback Emanuel Gant.
Gant finished with impressive numbers, but the pressure he faced all night threw off Tempe's offensive rhythm and led to three turnovers.
For the game the Buffaloes (5-2) fumbled the ball five times and lost two. All the fumbles came in the backfield with the defensive pressure of the Coyotes bearing down on Tempe.
“Our two main goals were to try and keep their offense off the field and keep ours on it.” Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale said. “Our pressure changed the dynamic of the game. We had a lot of sacks and forced some turnovers.”
The Coyotes offense also sustained a couple of key long drives. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Campo put together a clock eating drive that culminated with a 5-yard touchdown run by Brock Sanderson to give the Coyotes a two-score lead.
“We had a few setbacks on penalties but we didn’t let it get to us and we just kept marching forward and got the win," Campo Verde quarterback Luke Pineda said. "The defense stepped up tonight. We take pride in our defense and they came through when we needed it.”
Pineda finished the game 8-of-15 passing for 121 yards with two touchdown passes. He also rushed the ball 11 times for 77 yards, most of which came on the game-clinching drive.
“It was a great job on both sides of the ball," Ragsdale. There were still a few too many penalties here and there, we left a few points out there but I couldn’t be happier. That’s a heck of a football team over there.”
Gant, who has led the Tempe offense to some impressive performances during this turnaround season - including the last three games when the Buffaloes averaged 55 points per game - finished the night 25 of 38 for 322 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception. He was sacked five times and finished with minus-13 yards rushing.
Both teams played a little sloppy at times as there were 19 penalties between the two schools for 164 yards.
“They did a good job putting pressure on us," Tempe coach Brian Walker said. "We lost some opportunities and they played a good game I can’t take anything away from them."
Campo Verde 26, Tempe 14
Tempe 7 0 7 0 - 14
CV 9 7 3 7 - 26
CV - Appel 22 pass from Pineda (run failed)
T - Watkins 4 pass from Gant (kick good)
CV - Wells 30 FG
CV - Belcher 11 pass from Pineda (Wells kick)
CV - Wells 26 FG
T - Wiatr 2 pass from Gant (kick good)
CV - Sanderson 5 run (Wells kick)