Desert Mountain coach Tony Tabor compared his team to a boxer stunned by a surprising left jab.
But in the end it was Desert Mountain delivering the decisive blows for a 15-7 come-from-behind victory over Phoenix North Canyon in a 5A nonregion game on Friday at Desert Mountain.
Quarterback Corey Campbell (9 of 14 passing for 117 yards) engineered a pair of scoring drives at the end of the first half and at the beginning of the third quarter that brought the Wolves (2-1) back for a 13-7 lead.
The decisive blow came on the first play of the second half when Campbell hit wide receiver Brett Patrick over the middle for a 58-yard touchdown.
Then, the defense stepped up, sacking quarterback Dominic Portacererro (12 of 21, 94 yards) and forcing a fumble that left the Rattlers (1-2) facing fourth-and-24 from their own 1-yard line.
North Canyon snapped the ball through the end zone for a safety, providing the final margin.
“(The Rattlers) had been running a different scheme from what they’ve shown and it caught us on our heels,” Tabor said. “We took a punch and kind of staggered, but we were able to regroup.”
Desert Mountain dug deep late in the game when Campbell injured his right knee with 9:54 remaining.
Sophomore Kevin Radcliffe took the reigns and ran two plays before the Wolves had to punt.
An illegal use of the hands call and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty buried the Rattlers on the ensuing drive and Radcliffe and the Wolves offense responded with something they hadn’t done all game. They ran the ball successfully.
Junior Neusha Vakilil, who found little running room in the first half, rushed nine times for 37 yards in the final drive, carrying Desert Mountain to a fourth-and-4 at the 28 with just under a minute left to play.
Radcliffe then delivered the knockout punch with a nine-yard run that gave the Wolves a first down with 47 seconds left. From there, they ran out the clock for their second win at home.
“The offensive line really stepped up, helped the young (quarterback) out and pulled us together at the end of the game,” Tabor said. “That’s what did it.”