Tempe McClintock’s highoctane passing game was hitting on all cylinders as the Chargers defeated crosstown rival Tempe 14-7 in a 4A nonregion football game Thursday night.
The win was only the second in Mike Gibbons’ short head coaching career, but it might just be the sweetest for 1985 McClintock grad.
“Even when I was no longer a part of this rivalry, I still kept my eye on it,” Gibbons said. “Any time these teams get together, it doesn’t matter if they are up or down or someone’s good, it’s usually a heated ballgame.”
The heat came from both defenses early on as neither team could establish a running game in the first half. That wasn’t a problem for the Chargers and strong-armed quarterback Kelly Kurzman. After an impressive opening drive that ended in a fumble, Kurzman found tight end Jared Ringer on an 8-yard strike, the only score of the opening half.
Kurzman finished the game 13-for-20 with 232 yards and two touchdowns, again finding Ringer on the same play for 15 yards in the fourth quarter.
The scoring drive came after Tempe’s best drive of the game, a 14-play march that ended in a missed field goal. McClintock responded with some newly found confidence, gaining first downs on four consecutive plays.
The drive culminated in Kurzman and Ringer hooking up again, this time for a 15-yard score.
The play, a play-action pass with Ringer cutting toward a seam in the middle of the field, worked multiple times Thursday, and Kurzman found his other favorite target, Malcolm Martin, five times for 102 yards.
Tempe made it interesting late in the fourth, scoring on a hook-and-lateral play between quarterback Pedro Rubio, who found receiver Mario Saya, who pitched the ball to tailback Michael Waddle, who ran for the 25-yard score.