Chandler came into the game without their senior TE/DE Dion
Jordan suffered burns to his body in
an off-field accident. With Jordan being out for the rest of the
season, would the Wolves have enough firepower to hold off Corona del Sol, who
came into the game with a record of 4-2?
The Aztecs would receive the ball
first, after junior WR Kirby Pellant
returned the ball to the 29 yard line. A nine yard run by senior RB J.R. Hamm, followed by a four yard run
by senior RB Kyle Schmella moved the
ball towards midfield. After a false start penalty, Corona used seven more rushing plays by Pellant, Hamm, and Schmella to
reach the one yard line. Hamm then punched it in for the opening score.
With the extra point, the Aztecs led by seven.
Chandler's first drive can be described by one
word - ugly. Senior QB Payton Lacivita
was stopped for no gain on the first play, had an incompletion to junior RB
Bryce Lamb, then was sacked by
junior DL Tyler Giannonatti on third
down. To make matters worse, their punt attempt was blocked by senior DB Lucas Starkey and recovered by senior
DB Elijah Chiang at the Wolves' 28
Even though they had great field
was not able to score on this drive. After a two yard run by Hamm and an incomplete
pass from sophomore QB Chase Cartwright
intended for senior WR Tanner
Wear, the Aztecs faced 3rd and 8. A screen to Hamm netted them nine
yards with the fumble going out of bounds. Schmella's next run got Corona down to the 10.
Another Hamm run
then went for a loss of one, setting up 3rd and 6. Pellant then ran a
WR sweep for seven yards, but a flag against the home team forced them back out
to the 16. On 3rd and 11, a screen to senior WR Eric Benson went for nine yards,
leaving the Aztecs with a decision to make on 4th and 2. Head Coach
Gary Venturo decided to go for it but Chandler's
defensive line made him regret the choice, as they stuffed Hamm at the line of
scrimmage, causing a turnover on downs.
The Wolves' second drive was a
little better than their first. Starting from their own eight, Chandler would drive 92
yards for their first score of the night. Junior RB Jamil Hines got things going with two
runs for seven yards. An eight yard pass from Lacivita to senior RB Steven Jackson, coupled with a flag on
Corona, put the
ball on the 38. From there, Hines ran for six, senior WR Archie Woulard caught a pass for 10,
and senior WR Marc Anthony caught
another one for six, leaving the Wolves with a 2nd and 4 from the
Aztecs' 25. Lacivita's next swing pass to Lamb gained 22 yards, and along with
another Corona penalty, gave Chandler 1st
and goal from the nine. After junior LB Evan Altheide tackled Jackson three yards in the backfield, Chandler was called for a
penalty. Lacivita and West made the flag irrelevant, though, on the next play,
after the QB found the WR wide open in the end zone. After the PAT, the Wolves
and Aztecs were tied at seven with 10:26 left in the half.
Corona's next offensive possession was like Chandler's first - ugly.
Three plays involving Hamm netted them eight yards. Senior Eric Benson then downed the ball at the
Wolves' 29 yard line after a 38 yard punt.
After a run by Hines gained nothing
and an incomplete pass to Lamb, Lacivita found senior WR Michael Dunn on a tipped pass for 11
yards (looks like practicing the tip drill during the week paid off Friday
night). The next three runs also gained only eight yards, forcing a 33 yard punt
from junior P Kyle Trella, which
downed the ball at the Aztecs' 19 yard line.
Even with junior WR Ryan Nolan's sweep, Corona went three and out
on their next drive. Benson's next punt went all of two yards after a gracious
The Wolves wasted no time scoring.
After an eight yard Jackson run, Lacivita found Lamb wide open for
the 24 yard score. The extra point was good, making the score 14-7 in favor of
2:17 to play in the 2nd quarter.
Each team then had one more
possession in the first half, but time ran out on Chandler after they reached the Aztecs' 31 yard
line. At the half, Corona trailed 14-7.
After Anthony returned the opening
kickoff of the second half to their own 40 yard line, the Wolves could not get
their offense going. A three and out resulted in the Aztecs taking over at their
own eight yard line.
It was Corona's turn to put
together a time-consuming 92 yard scoring drive. Eight running plays by Hamm,
senior RB Cheovaris Jumpp (who went
into the game after Hamm was injured), Schmella, Cartwright, and Pellant, plus
three passes to senior TE Lucas
Starkey, Benson, and senior TE Joey
Kamper put the ball right at Chandler's four yard line. Two plays later,
return and punch it in for the score. The PAT was blocked, however, by Lamb,
preserving the 14-13 lead for Chandler.
The Wolves would get a big break on
the ensuing kickoff, after the ball went out of bounds, a penalty. With the ball
at their own 44 yard line, Chandler did not have very far to go to score
their next touchdown. Despite a holding penalty, Jackson, Lacivita, and Hines
had a total of 39 rushing yards on
the drive, including a three yard run by Jackson on 4th and 1 from
the Aztecs' 16 yard line. Lacivita also added a 16 yard pass to Woulard during
the drive to set up 1st and 10 from the 13. From there, Hines ran
behind the left side of his offensive line and gave the Wolves their last points
of the night. With the extra point and only 1:04 left in third quarter,
Sophomore Corona running back Michael Lange came up big on the next
kickoff, returning the ball one yard short of midfield. Cartwright wasted no
time scoring for the Aztecs, as he found Benson open on the right side of the
field for a 51 yard touchdown pass (talk about efficiency). Cartwright then used
the same formula on the two point attempt, converting when Benson found a hole
in the end zone. With 44.8 seconds left in the third quarter, the game was tied
Benson would come up big for
Corona on the
Wolves' next drive. On the fifth play, a Lacivita pass intended for senior TE Sam Dohm instead wound up in Benson's
Taking over in Chandler territory, the Aztecs faced 2nd and 6
from the 20 after three runs by Pellant, Hamm, and Schmella. Pellant would then be
sacked on a pass play by senior LB Kurt Mangum for a six yard loss. With 12 yards needed for the first down, their
next play only produced nine. Pellant, versatile as he is, came on to make a 34
yard field goal. With a little over eight minutes left in the game, the Aztecs
led by a score of 24-21.
After a touchback, the Wolves' next
possession would not last long. Following a Jackson run for no gain, Lacivita was sacked by
Giannonatti, losing his grip on the football. Senior Corona DL Austin Cartwright would recover inside
the red zone at the 16 yard line.
Hamm would gain 11 yard on the next two running
plays, setting up 1st and goal from the five. Another Hamm run for three yards
put the ball at the two. From there, it was Chase Cartwright's turn to lose his
handle on the pigskin when junior Wolf DL Terry Williams knocked it loose.
Chandler had one
last chance to either tie or win the game.
Starting from their own 15,
Lacivita's first pass to West fell incomplete. Lamb then ran for two yards
before being stopped by Corona's defense. Another incomplete pass from
Lacivita to West then seemingly stopped the drive. Trella then trotted onto the
field to punt, but a five yard penalty on the Aztecs made Chandler Head Coach
Jim Ewan change his mind, which turned out to be the right call. Lacivita found
Dohm open for a 12 yard gain, then he found Dunn 11 yards down the field for
another first down. Chandler then imploded. Lacivita was stuffed on
a running play for no gain. On 2nd down, an incomplete pass, coupled
with a flag on the Wolves, gave them 2nd and 21 from their own 34. A
screen to Jackson went nowhere, as senior Corona DL Wyatt Cahill made a great play five
yards in the backfield. With 26 yards to go for the 1st down,
Lacivita found Dunn open for 21 yards. Coach Ewan then called a timeout with
1:32 left in the game to discuss what to do on 4th down. They decided
to repeat the previous formula, with Lacivita looking for Dunn; however, Benson
knocked the ball away, giving the Aztecs the ball back and the game.
Three straight QB kneel downs hurt
their rushing average, but Corona del Sol RB J.R. Hamm said they'll take it.
"We came out and played with our
hearts. We practiced for all of their schemes for two weeks," Hamm said. "We thought
they were going to come out with a lot more boost because Dion was gone, but we
came out fired up."
Without Dion Jordan in the lineup, Chandler was missing a guy
who could convert many third downs with his ability to catch the ball. Someone
besides their other key players needs to step up and fill the void, especially
with upcoming region games against Mesquite, at
Gilbert, and at Hamilton.
Corona del Sol improved their
record to 5-2 with the comeback win. If Chase Cartwright, who played great, can
continue to mature quickly, the Aztecs could make some noise in the playoffs.
Their guys might not have the most talent, but they sure do play
Despite missing Jordan, senior
QB Payton Lacivita was able to spread the ball around to many of his weapons. He
kept the Wolves' chances alive for the most part on the night.
Even though he had a three yard
punt in the first half, senior WR/DB Eric Benson came up huge when it mattered
most - in the 4th quarter. He gets the nod over senior RB J.R. Hamm,
whose tough running kept the ball moving all night for Corona del Sol
Another game ball goes to Corona
Principal Susan Edwards and the fans who attended the game. Edwards presented
Chandler with a $1,000 check during halftime to
be given to Dion Jordan's family.