Fresh off a heartbreaking loss and entering a home matchup as marked underdogs, Campo Verde's defense came up big and the offense chipped in when it mattered to lead the Coyotes to a 28-7 victory over a banged-up Marcos de Niza squad on Friday night.
Taking advantages of a Padres (4-2) squad sans quarterback Josh Eckley, the Coyotes (5-1) raced off to a 14-0 lead in the first half thanks to some nifty offensive moves from quarterback Luke Pineda and halfback Gabe Ogbonnaya. As the Campo offense found a few ways to sneak into the end zone, Marcos' offense couldn't maintain any of the glimmers of momentum it stumbled upon and watched drive after drive flame out.
But while the offense struggled, the Padres' defensive and special teams units did just enough to keep the game tight, highlighted by a blocked punt by Coleman Griffith that gave the team the ball at Campo's 18-yard line. Marcos halfback Jake Lagunas would top off the ensuing short series with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-7 game early in the third quarter.
After the defense stuffed Campo again, Marcos' offense made another procession down the field behind a few clutch plays by backup quarterback Jackson Loney, capped by a 20-yard completion to N'Keal Harry on fourth-and-9 that moved the ball well into Coyote country. The series continued all the way to the Coyotes' two-yard line during the first two minutes of the final frame, but all of the hard work was spoiled when Lagunas lost two yards and the ball at the Coyotes' 4.
Campo didn't waste the opportunity, and let Ogbonnaya carry them deep into their opponent's end zone before concluding off the 96-yard series with the second Pineda to Alex Madrid touchdown connection of the evening with 6:38 left. Any hope for a Marcos' comeback essentially concluded five-and-a-half minutes later when Ogbonnaya sneaked and powered his way 37 yards into the end zone to complete the rebound after last week's three-point loss to Highland.
“It's very frustrating as a coach to watch the kids bust their ass,” said Marcos coach Roy Lopez, whose team lost 40-7 at Salpointe Catholic last week. “Too many mistakes; it's not going our way.”
Pineda ended the game 11 for 19 for 160 yards and two touchdowns and added a chippy touchdown on the ground. But it was Ogbonnaya, who carried offense, as he toted the ball 23 times for 244 yards and a touchdown. While he was effective throughout the game, Ogbonnaya earned a touch more than half of his total yardage in the fourth quarter alone to resurrect what was a flailing offense.
“We were able to adjust off their adjustments,” said coach Max Ragsdale.
One area that remained solid throughout was the defense, which forced three turnovers – two fumbles and a Loney interception – and allowed Marcos to complete just three of its 10 third-down attempts. Although Loney did accumulate 214 yards passing, the Padres' run game gained just 88 yards on 11 carries, and Campo found a way to play the proverbial bend but not break defense.
Lopez credited the Campo defense and the rest of the opposing squad for how they played, but attributed the loss to the his team's own trespasses like fumbles, dropped passes and a slew of injuries.
“We have to figure things out … it's tough to play quarterback with a tight end,” Lopez said.