It was a rough night for offense as Williams Field High edged Campo Verde, 17-14, in Class 5A high school football in Gilbert.
The Black Hawks have had sporadic moments when their highly-skilled offense has had trouble moving the ball. Friday was one of those. Williams Field completed just seven passes and struggled to block in the running game.
It is the fourth game that Williams Field has won by a single score this season.
“We’ve been pulling out games too often, and we seriously need to start playing better,” Black Hawks coach Steve Campbell said. “We’re happy to win, don’t get me wrong, and all the credit to Campo Verde, but we have to stop making the mistakes that we can control.”
With one game left, Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale hopes his team can take its late momentum during this comeback attempt and put that into next week.
“If anything, we’re resilient. We always play hard and I’m not surprised we were in it at the end, but obviously at the end of the day we want to win the game,” Ragsdale said.
In two critical final-week 5A match ups Friday, Campo Verde (6-3) finishes its season on the road against Casteel (7-2) and Williams Field (8-1) hosts Gilbert-rival Higley (7-2).
Each of Williams Field’s scores was the result of great field position provided by the defense or special teams. The Black Hawks first touchdown came after senior safety Noa Pola-Gates returned an interception to the 1-yard line. The other touchdown, late in the game, came after the defense forced the Coyotes into a turnover-on downs.
“Those turnovers were really important. We couldn’t do much offensively tonight, so having those short fields was a big deal for us,” Campbell said.
Campo Verde was missing several top offensive players, including senior running back Matt Leazier, who at one point in the season was leading 5A in rushing yards. He spent his senior night on the sideline with crutches.
“We’re down four starters against one of the top defenses in the state. It’s tough to not have those guys out there,” Ragsdale said.
The Black Hawks kicked a short field goal following a long punt return to go up 10-0 in the third quarter and then scored a touchdown to push the lead to 17 with 5:43 left in the game.
That’s when Campo Verde began moving and made a game of it. Passes and sneaks from senior quarterback Parker Nuzman led CV to a seemingly-meaningless touchdown with 3:09 left in the game.
Then, with Williams Field trying to run out the clock, Campo Verde broke up a pitch play and fell on the ball. The short field aided a touchdown that cut the deficit to three points with 1:34 left.
Williams Field recovered the onside kick and finally ran out the clock.
Early in the game, Nuzman had success on a few long passes but he faced consistent pressure and was forced out of the pocket on nearly every play. Williams Field got consistent penetration on Campo Verde’s run game. The Coyotes offense – normally a run-first team – was made one-dimensional.
Even without a rushing attack, the Coyotes sustained two significant drives in the first half, including one late in the second quarter that was kept alive on a 20-yard quarterback sneak on third-and-18. However, Campo Verde committed two costly red-zone turnovers – a fumble from 5 yards out and an interception in the red-zone – that had them scoreless at half.
Pola-Gates said such plays in crucial situations are part of Williams Field’s defensive identity.
“That’s a big key in our game. When we make those turnovers, it gives the offensive side an opportunity to make their plays, which we also need,” Pola-Gates said.
Williams Field 17, Campo Verde 14
Williams Field 7 0 3 7 – 17
Campo Verde 0 0 0 14 – 14
WF – Thompson 1 run (Robles kick), 7:34.
WF – FG, Wells 30, 0:37.
WF – Lurry 11 run (Robles kick), 5:43.
CV – Bagley 16 pass from Nuzman (Passey kick), 3:09.
CV – Pinion 7 run (Passey kick), 1:34.
Williams Field – Thompson 18-60, Lurry 10-25, Shepherd 5-25, Norton 3-7. Campo Verde – Woodruff 5-24, Nuzman 10-23, Pinion 3-13, Bagley 8-8.
Williams Field – Shepherd 7-19-0, 103 yards. Campo Verde – Nuzman 10-19-2, 164.
Williams Field – Taylor 3-59, Reed 4-44. Campo Verde – Smith 3-65, Coffee 4-54, Bagley 2-33, Pinion 1-12.
First downs 9 11
Rush-yards 36-117 26-68
Comp-Att-Int 7-19-0 10-19-2
Pass yards 103 164
Total yards 220 232
Fumbles/lost 1/1 1/1
Penalties 8-78 2-15