A near-perfect first half helped Tempe Corona del Sol to a 27-13 victory in 5A-I football over former Central Region rival Phoenix Desert Vista Friday night.
The Aztecs scored on all four of their first-half possessions to get the much-needed road victory.
Led by quarterback Chase Cartwright and his 151 yards passing, the Corona del Sol offense had three touchdowns and a field goal in the first half in building a 24-0 lead. Cartwright ran for two scores and threw for another as the Aztecs moved the ball up and down the field with ease.
It was a far cry from the type of football Corona del Sol (2-5) has played this season.
“We caught the ball better, we blocked better, we played harder, we tackled better,” Aztecs coach Gary Venturo said.
The key play of the game came on the Aztecs’ opening drive, when Cartwright hit Kyle Benson with a 3-yard touchdown pass. It came on a fourth-down play after the Thunder had stuffed the Corona del Sol running game on three straight plays.
“The kids wanted to go for it, so we did,” Venturo said. “That was real big.”
Said Cartwright, “As soon as we didn’t make it we told the coaches we wanted to go for it. We had the right play. We knew we could score.”
Corona del Sol is now hoping this is a momentum-changing game for the rest of the season. That begins next week against Chandler Basha.
“We’ve had so many bad breaks this season it was great to finally come through,” Cartwright said. “Hopefully we’ll be inspired next week.”
The Aztecs forced Desert Vista (2-5) to punt on its first possession, but punter Eric Camarillo bobbled the ball and was tackled for a big loss.
Corona del Sol had to drive just 33 yards for its second touchdown, a 2-yard run by Cartwright.
A 37-yard field goal by Dylan Harris and a 3-yard run by Cartwright helped the Aztecs to the 24-0 lead with 3:57 left in the half.
Corona del Sol’s running game was effective early, with Michael Lange and Dominic MacUrio getting most of the work. Lange had 60 yards on 17 carries and MacUrio had 78 on 12 carries.
The Thunder offense finally got going late in the half and drove 77 yards for its first score, a 23-yard pass from quarterback Sean Coffinger to wide receiver Ryne Rezac.
Desert Vista threatened again early in the third quarter only to be turned back four straight times by the Aztecs’ defense inside the 6-yard line.
Keeping the Thunder out of the end zone was large for the Aztecs, who gave up a touchdown to Desert Vista the next time the Thunder touched the ball.
Coffinger hit Mike Ingrassia with a 36-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the third quarter to cut the lead to 24-13.
Corona del Sol
CDS – Benson 3 pass from Cartwright (Harris kick) CDS – Cartwright 2 run (Harris kick) CDS – Harris 37 FG CDS – Cartwright 3 run (Harris kick) DV – Rezac 23 pass from Coffinger (Loomer kick) DV – Ingrassia 36 pass from Coffinger (kick failed) CDS – Harris 23 FG
Two big fourth-down plays were key for Corona del Sol. The Aztecs first touchdown came on fourth down play (a three yard pass from Chase Cartwright to Kyle Benson. The second was when the Aztecs' defense held the Thunder on a fourth down midway through the third quarter when Desert Vista was threatening to get back into the football game.
Player of the game
Corona del Sol quarterback Chase Cartwright ran for two touchdowns and and threw for another in leading the Aztecs to the impressive victory.
Corona del Sol earned just its second victory of the season with a 278-13 victory over rival Desert Vista. It is the Aztecs (2-5) first win in four weeks after dropping three straight games. Desert Vista falls to 2-5.