Josh Felton ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns while teammate Roman Lunsford rushed for 99 yards as Phoenix St. Mary's overcame a late turnover and captured a 23-21 win Friday over Tempe Corona del Sol at Hoy Field on the Phoenix College campus.
Felton’s 14-yard run with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter put the Knights (4-1) up, but it was the St. Mary's defense that sealed the game.
“This was every bit of a classic high school football game,” said St. Mary’s coach Pat Farrell. “It was evenly matched, nobody quit, and it came down to our defense having the first solid defensive stop of the night, when the game was on the line.”
The Aztecs (3-2) had been tearing up the Knights’ defense, including a momentum shifting interception by Corona del Sol junior Elijah Chaing early in the fourth quarter. That interception set up a long drive helped out by Donovan Connor and J.R. Hamm running the ball at St. Mary’s.
Hamm rushed for 119 yards and caught three passes for 25 yards, including one pass that gave Corona a 14-10 lead early in the second half.
Connor, however, needed only one of his 95 yards rushing to put the Aztecs up 21-17 with 7:23 left.
But the momentum shift was quickly given back to St. Mary’s thanks to an encroachment penalty that set up one Knight first down and then a 15-yard roughing the passer call later in the drive that gave the Knights the ball on the Aztecs’ 25.
Four plays later, Felton fought his way into the end zone to get St. Mary’s back into the lead.
“This was a clutch win for us,” Felton said. “Coach told us at halftime that we were going to have to earn this one. We knew we had to get out here and fight.”
Farrell said both teams understood that this game was critical with region play approaching. But it may have been an even bigger win for the Knights after their loss to Mesa Westwood last week.
“We had a really rough week following the loss to Westwood,” Farrell said. “The kids were challenged in a manner that they haven’t been this year, especially our seniors. They responded the way St. Mary's seniors should respond.”
Farrell said that heading into next week’s game with Phoenix Shadow Mountain, his team showed progress in areas that needed improvement.
“Our passing game improved and we got our running game back,” Farrell said.
St. Mary’s quarterback Greg Gonzales threw for 138 yards and was 10 of 16 in passing.