Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds wanted nothing to do with the stat sheet after his team's outing Friday night. He knew it wasn't going to be pretty.
But it doesn't always have to be pretty, Hinds noted following his team's come-from-behind, 10-6 road victory over rival Corona del Sol.
"Five-and-two; that's all I care about. Nobody cares about scores. 5-and 2," Hinds said after his team trailed 6-0 after the first, and again at halftime, only to score 10 unanswered in the third to pull out the victory. "I'm always really critical of myself, and critical of when we don't do well. But right now, I don't care. We're 5-2, and we met our ultimate goal and that's to win."
Desert Vista managed just 31 total yards of offense on 19 first-half plays, but the Thunder were still in the game throughout thanks to being able to hold the Aztecs out of the end zone all night.
Corona's six points came on a pair of first-quarter field goals - from 41 and 31 yards out - by Zac Von Allworden.
In the third quarter, Desert Vista finally got on the board itself when John Gieseking hit his own 27-yarder with 5:30 to play in the quarter.
Later in the third, as the Thunder pushed across midfield trailing by a field goal, a roughing the passer call pushed Desert Vista to a first down at the Corona 28. Snapping the ball with no more than few seconds left in the quarter, Hunter Rodriguez hit Sean Coffinger inside the 10 on a pretty play-action fake. Coffinger caught the ball in stride, his momentum propelling himself and the Aztec defender across the goal line for the game's only touchdown as the clock hit zero.
Neither team would score in the fourth.
Corona del Sol coach Zane Zamenski said he was proud of his team's effort, considering its traditional slow start to games this season. Friday night's outing was the first all season that Corona (1-6) scored a first quarter point, let alone led after one frame.
"(We) came together a little bit more than we have in the past few weeks, and that's a good thing," Zamenski said. "We did some good things tonight, and unfortunately at key times, we made some critical errors. That's typical of a team that -how do I say this - a team that hasn't really learned how to win.
"Our kids played hard, there's no doubt about that, but we have to swallow that bitter pill and learn another lesson."
Hinds said he was confident it was only a matter of time before a big play or two would break open for the Thunder. In addition to Coffinger's touchdown haul, a 43-yard sweep by Mike Ingrassia played a big role in setting up the Desert Vista field goal.
Thunder two-way player Shaw Loomer, a receiver and defensive back, said that he and his teammates know it sometimes only takes one or two big plays. He added, however, that - especially on defense - not making a play is often the difference between a win or loss in a game like this.
Loomer himself made a pair of big stops on Corona's last attempt at a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Loomer climbed the ladder alongside Corona's Tre Chambers on a long sideline pass, and amidst some incidental contact by both parties, got over the top of Chambers to knock the ball away. On the next play, it was Loomer who made a shoestring tackle after Corona's Evan Kinney hit Chase Kofka in stride in seemingly wide-open space near midfield. A missed tackle would have tacked on a couple dozen more yards to Kofka's catch-and-run.
"Those plays define the game," Loomer said. "If you mess up, it could be the game."
A pair of sacks by Desert Vista lineman Spencer Schumacher also played a key role in keeping Corona out of the end zone.
As Corona was driving deep in Thunder territory in the first, it was a timely sack by Schumacher that forced an unsuccessful 3rd-and-long try, ultimately leading to the Aztecs' first field goal.
Then in the fourth, on a similar play - Corona well into Desert Vista's side of the field - another Schumacher sack of Kinney forced yet another failed 3rd-and-long.
Corona would not score on that drive, however. On a 4th-and-12 play that started from the Desert Vista 29 inside seven minutes to play, Kinney took the snap out of the shotgun, pulled the ball down rather quickly, and bounced outside. He appeared to have enough for the first down, but officials ruled his first step out of bounds occurred before he reached the first-down marker, giving the ball back to the Thunder.
Mike Arredondo picked off Kinney at about the Desert Vista 30 with 27 seconds to play to seal the win. Ryan Wagner also had an interception for Desert Vista, intercepting Kinney at the Thunder 5-yard line earlier in the game.
Despite the interceptions, Kinney completed 10-of-17 passes for 119 yards, hitting five different receivers in the process. Dominic Murcurio carried the ball 23 times, but a mixture of big gains kept him to barely 60 yards.
Rodriguez completed 12-of-27 passes for 166 yards for the Thunder.
"We feel bad about how bad we played, but it's nice to think that we could play that bad and still win," Loomer said. "I just want to see when finally play a full game - that will be fun."
Desert Vista returns home to face Chandler next week in a Fiesta region matchup, while Corona is home again against Basha, a central region opponent.
Desert Vista 10, Corona del Sol 6
First Downs 13 12
Rushes-Yards 26-88 34-58
Passing yards 166 119
Comp-Att-Int 12-27-0 10-17-2
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-50 5-42
Desert Vista 0 0 10 0 10
Corona del Sol 6 0 0 0 6
CdS -- Van Allworden 41 field goal (8:00)
CdS -- Van Allworden 31 field goal (1:04)
DV -- Gieseking 27 field goal (5:30, 3rd)
DV -- Coffinger 28 pass from Rodriguez (Gieseking kick) (0:00, 3rd)