Tempe's defense shined early, but faded quickly Friday in a 28-13 loss to Phoenix Sunnyslope in a nonregion game at Tempe.
On Sunnyslope's first possession, Tempe's George Whittle intercepted a Sean Maraz pass and returned it 58 yards for a score. That was followed by another Whittle pick on the Vikings' next possession. The Buffaloes were unable to take advantage of the turnover, and then gave up 482 yards of total offense to the Vikings (2-1).
Tempe (0-2) was unable to stop Maraz, who threw for 305 yards and one touchdown and ran for another 42 yards and two scores.
Tempe had a good scoring chance late in the first half. David Johnson recovered a Viking fumble close to midfield. The Buffaloes were able to get down to the Sunnyslope 8-yard line after a 42-yard pass from Pedro Rubio to Whittle. But, Manny Diaz' 19-yard field goal attempt was blocked as time expired.
Tempe's only other score came in the third quarter. It was a 6-play, 68-yard drive in a little more than two minutes. The drive was highlighted by a 37-yard run by speedy Brandon Ford putting the Buffaloes at the Viking 18. Two plays later, Rubio hit Whittle from 16 yards out for a score.
Tempe looked like a team trying to get used to a new coach and system. The Buffaloes were flagged numerous times for delay of game, illegal formation and procedure calls. John Rodriguez is in his first season as head coach of the Buffaloes.
The officials may need to ice down after this one as they called an astounding 26 penalties on the two teams. That doesn't include the many calls that were declined by each team.