Desert Vista senior wide receiver Richard Haywood made a costly mistake early, but made up for it later to spark the Thunder’s 21-10 win over Dobson on Friday.
Haywood gave up a fumble on the Thunder’s first drive of the game and it led to a Dobson field goal.
DV answered back with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back T.J. Roberts. Then the Dobson rushing attack gashed DV's defense up the middle for a drive that ended with a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Dobson senior running back Zaneil Chatman.
The Thunder trailed 10-7 late in the first quarter, and Haywood was looking to redeem himself.
He turned the tide for the Thunder on the ensuing kickoff when he found a hole and sprinted for a 75-yard touchdown.
“That was big,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “The return really sparked our whole team. Richard is that kind of kid. He’s an exciting, electrifying kind of player and those are the kinds of things that he does for us. We really needed that. It came at the right time.”
Haywood said the return definitely helped him forget about his fumble.
“It felt good to get some relief, you know get that stress off our backs because we weren’t playing good at first,” Haywood said. “I fumbled. I was upset so I just wanted to get team back (on track).”
The return became even more paramount as the game wore on. The only other score in the game came toward the end of the second quarter when T.J. Roberts scored his second touchdown of the night on a 14-yard run.
Dobson coach George De La Torre said he was proud of his defense for keeping it close but also said Haywood’s return was the difference in the game.
“We gave them a couple scores on special teams and that was the big thing with that long run,” De La Torre said. “We can’t do that and stay in the game against a good East Valley football team like Desert Vista.”
Friday was Desert Vista sophomore quarterback Alex Farina’s best game since being called upon to replace injured Cade Van Raaphorst.
He was very accurate throwing the football, going 12-for-17 for 125 yards and might have also found a go-to target on third down in senior fullback Cullen Van Gosen. Van Gosen finished with five catches and 51 yards receiving, but his first three catches from Farina all were for first downs.
Van Gosen has liked the way Farina has matured very quickly.
“He didn’t expect for Cade to get hurt like that and he’s been really stepping up,” Van Gosen said. “The first couple games, and against Mountain Pointe, he threw those interceptions and I think he learned from those mistakes. He really got the feel of a varsity game. "...He’s starting to make plays now against this team and I hope he makes plays against Corona and Brophy, and, hopefully, we’ll make it to the playoffs.”
The second half wasn't so exciting.
Both teams went scoreless as neither offense could move the chains to get close to the opponent’s end zone.
The Dobson offense did have success running the ball. Its two-headed rushing attack of Chatman and senior Nate Collins helped the Mustangs gain 172 total yards on the ground.
But De La Torre said the offense did not step up at certain moments to keep drives moving.
“I thought maybe we could have had some more yards, some more points if we would have kept running the football,” De La Torre said. “Our kids did a great job moving the football but maybe not in crucial times when we needed that 1 yard for an extra first down.”
For the Desert Vista offense, penalties were the killer. In the second half alone the Thunder had 10 penalties for a total of 100 yards.
“It seemed like every time we got something going, it seemed like the refs would move us back on a penalty and it’s really hard to sustain drives when you’re doing that,” Hinds said. “We got to clean up our game a little bit in that regard.”
Toward the end of the fourth quarter the Thunder relied on Roberts to pound the run game and grind out the clock. He finished the night with 10 rushes for 52 yards.
The Thunder go on the road to take on their next opponent Corona del Sol on Thursday as the game is broadcast on Cox (ch. 7).
Hubbard is Tempe-based freelancer.
Desert Vista 21, Dobson 10
DV 14 7 0 0-21
D 10 0 0 0-10
D – Reyes 35 FG, 8:01
DV – Roberts 1 run (Schwartz kick), 4:55
D – Chatman 5 run (Reyes kick), 0:36
DV – Haywood 75 kickoff return (Schwartz kick), 0:24
DV – Roberts run (Schwartz kick) 5:47
First downs 11 12
Rushing 26-82-2 35-172-1
Passing 12-17-0-125 5-10-0-38
Fumble-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties 12-110 5-45
DV – Roberts 10-52, Haywood 3-6, Farina 5-(-7), Van Gosen 5-20. D – Chatman 12-57, Rhyne 1-1, Jaramillo 10-58, Collins 8-28, Douglas 6-28
DV – Farina 12-17125-0-0. C – Jaramillo 15-9-38-0-0
DV – Roberts 1-10, Reaves 1-9, Van Gosen 5-51, Haywood 4-35, Jason King 1-12, Rezac 1-23. D – Colburn 1-14, Chatman 2-9, Collins 1-4, Douglas 1-11.