The Padres' bid for their first state title in their first state championship appearance Friday night was short-circuited by a very flawed performance. Turnovers, big plays and a horrendous number of penalties left Marcos de Niza feeling the sting of a 34-21 defeat to Chaparral in the 5A Division II title game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Tempe Marcos de Niza got over the semifinal hump last week that plagued it two of the last three seasons by playing a nearly flawless game to beat Peoria Centennial.
But the Padres’ bid for their first state title in their first state championship appearance Friday night was short-circuited by a very flawed performance. Turnovers, big plays and a horrendous number of penalties left Marcos de Niza feeling the sting of a 34-21 defeat to Chaparral in the 5A Division II title game at Sun Devil Stadium.
“They have a helluva team,” Marcos de Niza linebacker/running back Ramon Abreu said. “They made big plays, we made mistakes — and when we did, they capitalized. We had to play like we did last week, and we didn’t.”
Marcos de Niza (12-2) surrendered one play of 25 yards or more in its 16-14 win over Centennial — a 27-yard run. Three huge offensive plays by Chaparral in Friday’s game were either touchdowns or set up a score. Firebirds running back Dwayne Garrett bolted 57 yards for the go-ahead, stay-ahead touchdown (giving Chaparral a 13-7 lead) with 12 seconds left in the first period, The play before that, Cole Tyree broke off a 31-yard run.
Chaparral also got a 60-yard completion from quarterback Connor Brewer to wideout Danny Trittle to set up up a 1-yard TD run late in the second period. The final big play was a 63-yard catch-and-run TD from Brewer to Garrett less than two minutes into the third period.
“They made big plays, and then bigger plays,” Abreu said.
Marcos de Niza’s two turnovers — a first-quarter fumble and second-quarter interception — resulted in 13 points for Chaparral. Marcos did not turn the ball over against Centennial.
The fumble occurred in Marcos de Niza’s end zone and was recovered by Firebirds linebacker Chris Fox. That stifled momentum for Marcos, which led 7-0 at the time and still led 7-6 after Abreu blocked the extra point.
The interception on the second play of the second quarter by linebacker Hunter Gregg set the Firebirds up at Marcos de Niza’s 37-yard line. Eight plays later, Garrett scored the second of his three touchdowns for a 20-7 advantage.
On top of the big plays and turnovers were more than twice the penalties of the week before — an alarming 16 flags for 161 yards.
“We have to get better with our discipline,” Marcos de Niza coach Roy Lopez said. “I’m proud of our boys. With all the mistakes, we still battled. We had some high points this season and got over a big hump. We didn’t play well enough tonight.”