Two 4-1 teams battle it out. A blocked extra point would be the difference.
This game showcased two very good
4-1 teams. Highland came into Chandler territory with their only loss coming
in the second week at Mesa Mountain View. Highland's defeat also came in the second week,
falling to Mesa Dobson. The fans on both sides were ready for a
Fireworks came right on the opening
kickoff. Senior WR Ty West returned
offering for a 99 yards touchdown, running up the middle then speeding to his
left. The PAT was good, and after only 16 seconds into the game, the Hawks led
Senior K Mike DiGangi pooch-kicked the next
play, which junior RB Bryce Lamb
recovered for the Wolves at the 13 yard line. Four straight Chandler runs by senior RB
Jamil Hines and senior RB Steven Jackson moved the ball 26 yards
to their own 39 yard line. Senior QB Payton Lacivita then found senior WR Archie Woulard for an eight yard pass.
On 2nd and 2, Hines ran up his left side for 11 yards. Then, Lamb ran
for another five yards to the 37. From there, Highland's defense took over. Senior DL Kevin Dever stuffed a run five yards in
the backfield, setting up 3rd and 10. On the next play, junior DB Will Shaw intercepted a Lacivita pass
for the first turnover of the game.
Highland's offense couldn't get anything going
on their first possession. Senior QB Jeremy Fuhst's first pass fell
incomplete. Senior RB Brandon Shines
got only three yard on his first run. A false start penalty then put the
Hawks on their own 33 yard line. A reverse by West didn't work after losing two
yards. Facing 4th and 14, Senior RB Mike Madrid set up to punt. His 13 yard
punt went off the side of his foot, giving Chandler great field
The Wolves were unable to
capitalize, however. Two runs each by Jackson and Hines, an incomplete pass by
Lacivita, and a failed WR sweep by Woulard set up 3rd and 17 from the
37. A screen to Hines seemed to work, except for the fact that Hines fumbled the
ball in the air, which Madrid scooped up for
Two runs by junior RB Eli West, an eight yard pass by Fuhst,
and a tackle in the backfield by Chandler's junior DL Sam Forni brought an end to the first
quarter. On 2nd and 13, Fuhst was hurried by senior DE Dion Jordan, causing an incomplete
pass. Another incomplete pass set up 4th down. Another Madrid punt downed the ball at the Chandler 19 yard
Two Hines runs and three Lacivita
passes set up 3rd and 1 from the Wolves' 38 yard line. Jackson would take the
next toss up the right side for a 62 yard touchdown run. The PAT was good, tying
the score at 7 with 8:29 left in the first half.
Highland responded on its next drive with the help of a 15
yard face mask penalty by Jordan. A beautiful 39 yard touchdown
pass from Fuhst to Ty West in the corner of the end zone through double coverage
gave the Hawks the 13-7 lead. Jordan somewhat made up for his
penalty by blocking the extra point attempt.
After a touchback on the ensuing
kickoff, Chandler wasted no time scoring again. Two
Hines runs set up 3rd and 5 from the 25. From there, Lacivita found
Jordan for a 26 yard pass. A 15 yard
face mask penalty on Highland put the ball on the Hawks' 34 yard
line. Lamb then ran a nine yard sweep, but a holding penalty on the Wolves sent
them back to the 47 yard line. Lacivita then found Jordan again on
the right side for a touchdown pass. The PAT was good, giving Chandler a 14-13 lead with
4:08 left in the half.
Highland's next possession brought nothing, with Chandler senior LB Chad Davis leading the defensive stand
on that drive.
Starting from their own 34, the
Wolves made their last possession of the first half interesting. Lamb, with a
great block from Jordan, ran the first play up the
right side for 29 yards. A Hines run and another Jordan catch set
up a 1st and 10 from the 27. Lamb then ran seven more yards before
their drive fell apart. A Woulard HB toss option led to an intentional grounding
penalty, setting up 3rd and 22. A 10 yard run by Lacivita led to a
field goal attempt by senior K Thomas
Farfan, which he missed wide left. Turnover on downs.
Highland then ended the half with a two yard
run by Eli West. After two quarters, Highland
The second half was all about
defense. A 20 yard return by Jackson started the
drive for Chandler at the 25. After a Jackson two yard run, Lacivita found Jordan again for a 30 yard pass that reached
Two plays after that, Jackson fumbled the rock, which was picked up
by junior Hawk DL Jared Ashton at
Chandler would get the ball back,
however, five plays later when Fuhst found senior CB Marc Anthony - who just so happens to
play on the other team. The Wolves couldn't do anything with the ball, though,
as junior DL James Pazos and
Madrid stuffed the Chandler running game.
Junior P Kyle Trella booted a rocket
for 48 yards, pinning Highland on their own 15 to
Highland would hold on to the ball through the
end of the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth, a 3rd and
5 from Chandler's 29 yard line, sophomore DL Ammon Samia made a big play in the
backfield, stuffing Ty West on the direct snap. A 47 yard field goal attempt by
DiGangi fell short, giving Chandler the ball back.
The Wolves used up much of the
4th quarter clock on their next drive. It took Chandler five plays to reach Highland's 42 after a Jackson sweep to the left side, but a holding
penalty enforced from the spot of the foul set the Wolves back to their own 35.
On 1st and 19, Jordan dropped a sure first down,
uncanny of him to do so. Three plays later, Highland's prayers were answered after forcing Chandler to punt, getting
the ball back with 7:08 left in the game.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the
4th quarter was not the best time to have a
The Wolves returned the favor four
plays later, after Highland's defensive line
on 4th and 3. The turnover on downs meant the Wolves would have to
have one last, great defensive stand for the night.
The stand lasted all of one play,
after senior Hawk WR Josh Valenzuela
coughed up the football, which senior CB Lee Peyton snatched in the air for
Five runs and one pass from the
Wolves forced Highland to use a timeout with 1:24 left. On
2nd and 12 from the Hawks' 27, Lamb iced the game with a 15 yard
sweep to the left. Two QB kneel downs later gave the Chandler Wolves a 14-13
victory over the visiting Highland Hawks.
"Practice and preparation was the
key for us this week," said Chandler RB Steven Jackson. "Last week, we were kind
of going through the motions, but we just kept fighting tonight."
FINAL: Highland Hawks 13-14 Chandler Wolves
Highland is for real. They were
able to make great offensive, defensive, and special teams plays, just not
enough of them. Ty West left the game with an apparent ankle injury, which means
someone else has to step up for the Hawks. Expect them to be tough during the
Chandler has some big lineman on the
perimeters, but their interior isn't as beefy. If their offensive line can
continue to get a push for their skill players, I think they could go deep into
the second season.
Hit of the
On 2nd and 7 from their
own 23 yard line on their fist possession of the fourth quarter, Highland TE
James Pazos got rocked by Chandler LB Chad Davis, knocking him out of the
Highland WR Ty West was all over
the field for the Hawks. His effort kept his team in the game
Chandler RB Steven Jackson
had over 100 yards rushing to go along with his touchdown. The steady running
game kept the ball away from Highland for most of the night.