Desert Vista High found its running game in the second half in Carlsbad, Calif., two weeks ago. On Friday, visiting Valley Vista got a big dose of it as the Thunder rolled to 3-0 in a 48-20 romp in Ahwatukee.
The Thunder, fresh off two victories over California opponents, proved themselves against an in-state foe, scoring touchdowns on consecutive drives to open the game without throwing a pass.
Junior running back Tyson Grubbs carried an offense that threw just seven passes the entire game with 127 yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns.
The game ended before the final 24 seconds ran off the clock after a Valley Vista defender was injured and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance. No further details were available on the name of the player or the severity of his injury.
It marks the first time DV has opened with three wins since 2011.
The Thunder line consistently opened holes for the skill players. Grubbs said that production was the key all night.
“They just pounded their opponents like they always do, like they’ve been doing all season,” Grubbs said.
Desert Vista’s offensive line made big pushes against the undersize Valley Vista front seven and allowed players to run downfield. Thunder coach Dan Hinds said that is exactly what he expected.
“In film, we saw what they were doing up front, and there were a lot of good match ups for us,” Hinds said. “We love running the football here.”
There was drama near the end of the first half before the Thunder pulled away in the second.
After their second consecutive defensive three-and-out, Desert Vista muffed a punt that allowed the Monsoon great field position. The Thunder defense held again, though. On fourth and long, Desert Vista’s defensive line pressured Monsoon quarterback Antonio Gomez and nearly had him sacked until he broke several tackles and ran 32 yards for a touchdown.
The Thunder shanked a punt later in the quarter, once again giving the Monsoon good field position. The Monsoon made a couple of large gains off broken tackles to set up a one-yard touchdown that made the score 21-13 at halftime.
“We really felt like we could have shut them out. We played really well for most of the plays, but just missed some tackles on a couple plays and they scored on them,” senior safety Carlo Jimenez said. “But overall, the coaches had a really good plan and we did well by sticking to it.”
Thunder quarterback Parker Navarro said the team knew it could not afford to make the same errors the rest of the game.
“It was just small issues, and little discipline mistakes,” Navarro said. “But, I think we’re aware of what happened, and it will get fixed this week in practice because that can’t always happen.”
Desert Vista came back in the second half, scoring again on consecutive offensive drives and tiring the Monsoon defense with the run.
With Valley Vista committing nearly its entire defense to the run late in the game, Navarro threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Grubbs, who was wide-open off play action.
Possibly the most excited that the Thunder got was when Tyson Grubbs’ brother, freshman Devin Grubbs, scored from 15 yards out with the backups in with 24 second left.
“I was so proud of him. That’s my blood and I love him so much. It just meant a lot,” Tyson Grubbs said.
Hinds was pleased with the win but said there is work to do if the Thunder want to continue their steak.
“We have got to work on everybody firing on the same cylinder every play,” Hinds said. “I can’t tell you how many plays we had where four out of our five offensive linemen blocked their guy perfectly and one guy didn’t. When we get there, when we’re firing on all cylinders, we’ll be a tough team.”
Desert Vista plays at North High next Friday, and the Monsoon (2-1) host Willow Canyon.
Desert Vista 48, Valley Vista 20
Valley Vista 0 14 0 7 -- 20
Desert Vista 14 7 21 6 -- 48
DV – T. Grubbs 5 run (Lewis kick), 9:00.
DV – T. Grubbs 5 run (Lewis kick), 1:08.
VV – Gomez run 32 (Harris kick), 6:42.