With Chandler star quarterback Brett Hundley on the sidelines against Desert Vista, it might have made sense, to the casual observer at least, that the Wolves trailed the Thunder 21-0 early in the second quarter, and 28-14 at halftime.
But on this Friday night, it’s a particular quirky Saturday football pundit’s words that might ring most true: Not so fast, my friends.
Chandler sputtered slightly out of the gates, but it was what Desert Vista did to Chandler’s defense in the first two quarters that helped the Thunder hold on to a 28-21 victory over the shorthanded Wolves at Thunder stadium.
“The first half it was really their defense versus our offense when we were putting points on the board,” Desert Vista’s Michael Ingrassia said in reference to Hundley being sidelined. “We had to scheme different because he wasn’t in, had to figure out to stop other guys, and we did. It was a good win for us.”
In full uniform for the game, Hundley was on the field for pre-game warm-ups. But the UCLA-bound senior, still nursing an ankle injury suffered last week, was one of a host of Chandler players held out of the lineup for various reasons.
While Ingrassia ran for 147 yards and a touchdown for Desert Vista (6-2, 2-1 Fiesta Region) on 15 carries – most all from the fly sweep formation – Hundley’s understudy, sophomore Darell Garretson, did a yeoman’s job for Chandler (5-3, 3-2). Garretson completed 12 of 20 passes for 167 yards with two touchdown and an interception.
“Darell played well. Darell did everything that was asked of him,” Chandler coach Jim Ewan said. “The kid did a good job.”
Garretson’s lone interception came late in the fourth quarter with Desert Vista clinging to that 7-point lead. Inside three minutes to play, the Thunder lined up for a 19-yard field goal that, in terms of yardage and placement between the hash marks, wasn’t much different than a typical extra point. With a chance to go up 10 and put the game all but out of reach, the attempt by John Gieseking – who made all four of his PAT tries earlier – had no chance as Chandler’s JJ Lewis, Lloyd Mills and Tyler Holmes all broke through the line to assist with the block.
Garretson then started Chandler from its own 11 and time winding down. After a short pass play, however, he threw a long pass downfield that was tipped on a jump ball before Desert Vista’s Nick Farina got his hands on it for the game-sealing interception.
“The confidence level is there with these guys right now,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “Since I’ve been a head coach here we always get up for Chandler.”
Especially during its early touchdown drives, Desert Vista was able to counter Ingrassia’s outside running with the between-the-tackles variety of Mike Arredondo.
Arredondo managed 92 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, and in all, 12 different Thunder players either caught passes or carried the ball.
“Tonight you couldn’t credit any one (player) with this win, this was a team win,” Ingrassia said.
Added Hinds: “You can run that kind of offense when you have unselfish kids, which we do. There’s nobody on this team who feels like “hey, give me the ball all the time.” … Our gameplan tonight was spread it around, let’s mix it up, and things were clicking.”
Hinds and Ingrassia agreed that it was nice to see the Thunder get out on an opponent right from the get-go.
“Finally. This is the first game we really jumped on a team early. It’s good when you do that, because it makes them press a little bit,” Hinds said.
“Every single game we’ve played so far, except for one maybe, we were down going into halftime,” Ingrassia added. “That was big.”
Hunter Rodriguez completed 12 of 23 passes for the Thunder, including a 7-yard touchdown to Sean Coffinger. Rodriguez did throw a trio of drive-halting interceptions, however. One came in the endzone, another at the Chandler 14-yard line, and one at the Chandler 3-yard line, albeit on a long pass attempt with time running down just before the half.
Conner Fandino opened the game’s scoring near the 8 minute mark of the first quarter with a 10-yard run. That was followed by scores by Arredondo and Ingrassia, putting Desert Vista up 21-0, before Mills caught a 25-yard scoring strike from Garretson. Desert Vista would round out its scoring on Coffinger’s touchdown reception with 1:33 to go in the second quarter.
But just when it looked like the Thunder could go into the half with a 28-7 lead, Mills returned the ensuing kickoff 71 yards to the 7-yard line. Aaron Mayo would score on the ground on the next play. No team scored after Chandler got in the endzone on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Garretson to Michael Okonkwo.
Chandler returns home next week to face Mountain View, while Desert Vista is on the road at Brophy.
Chandler 0 14 7 0 21
Desert Vista 7 21 0 0 28
Chandler Desert Vista
First downs 12 20
Rushes-yards 18-63 48-247
Passing yards 167 93
Comp-Att-Int 12-20-1 12-23-3
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-73 9-75
Phoenix Desert Vista (6-2, 2-1) defeated visiting Chandler (5-3, 3-2), 28-21, in a Class 5A-I Fiesta Region matchup Friday at Thunder Stadium in Ahwatukee Foothills.
The game came down the wire despite Desert Vista's early 21-0 lead. It wasn't over until a tipped jump ball on a long pass was grabbed by a diving Nick Farina for the would-be game-saving interception with less a little more than two minutes to play.
Player of the game:
Desert Vista's Michael Ingrassia ran for 147 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also caught one pass for 13 yards.
Desert Vista outgained Chandler 212-102 in total yards in the first half, running 39 first-half plays to the Wolves' 17.
DV - Fandino 10 run (Gieseking kick) (1st, 8:08)
DV - Arredondo 2 run (Gieseking kick) (2nd, 11:55)
DV - Ingrassia 27 run (Gieseking kick) (2nd, 8:26)
C - Mills 25 pass from Garretson (kick failed) (2nd, 5:23)
DV - Coffinger 7 pass from Rodriguez (Gieseking kick) (2nd, 1:33)
C - Mayo 7 run (Perkins conversion pass from Garretson) (2nd, 1:13)
C - Garretson 6 pass from Okonkwo (Chavez kick)