Desert Vista calmed down and never wavered from the game
Saguaro seemingly expelled all of its aggressive energy in the
first half on Friday, made too many mistakes when challenged and
It led to an extremely entertaining game as the Thunder erased a
22-point first-half deficit to knock off the Sabercats 31-28 when
senior Scotty Goldfein shook off two previous misses for a
game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.
"I had to redeem myself," Goldfein said. "I had to work for my
team because my team worked hard for me throughout the game. I owed
them that. I don't put (the win) on me, my team won this game."
This game was debated throughout the week as one the more
intriguing games of the year as media and fans alike had trouble
Saguaro (5-1) is a small-school elite. The Sabercats, with an
enrollment of about 1,400 students, won three of the last four
state titles in the now defunct Class 4A Division I and continued
to impress by winning by an average of 60-14 to start the year.
Desert Vista (6-0) is always one of the most talented teams in
the state and had a resurgence with a state semifinal appearance
last season. The Thunder, with an enrollment of about 3,000
students, put a hurting on everyone they faced in 2011, outscoring
five opponents 237 to 27.
But because of the size difference not many were sure how it was
going play out once they reached the field.
As it turned out Saguaro came out like the puppy that is the
smallest in the litter but doesn't know it while pushing everyone
else around to get to the food bowl, or in this case the end zone,
The Sabercats struck first, set up a blocked punt and a short
field, and often but it wasn't just Division I running back
prospect D.J. Foster (15 carries, 159 yards, 2 TD).
Sophomore quarterback Luke Rubenzer connected with Dakota
Reistad for touchdown passes of 85 yards and 42 yards, with the
first being a swing pass where the latter broke tackles and the
second one they took advantage of broken coverage as Reistad ran
all alone down the sideline.
When Desert Vista fumbled at the Saguaro 13-yard line late in
the second quarter, Foster followed with a 67-yard touchdown run to
go up 28-6 at half.
The Thunder had several long drives, controlled the line of
scrimmage but trailed by 22 at the half. It could have been a
deflated locker room with thoughts of a lost opportunity heading
into next week's battle against Hamilton.
Instead the team turned to last year's experience of second-half
comebacks and found out that his team had similar resiliency.
"We told them we were going find out exactly what kind of team
they really are," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "I think we
Desert Vista senior wide receiver/defensive back Matt Smith said
the locker room never wavered.
"We knew we didn't play well and that if we went back to our
game we'd comeback," said Smith, who hauled in a key 46-yard pass
on the game-tying drive. "They really only had No. 8 (Foster)
making plays. We knew we had it because we'd face that kind of
adversity a lot last year."
Desert Vista opened the second half with a long drive that Mike
Arredondo finished off with a score and then the game changed when
Saguaro fumbled on the ensuing possession to give the Thunder a
"I wasn't patient (on the pitch)," said Foster, who had only
seven carries for 22 yards in the second half "It hit me high (on
the pads) and I dropped it."
The Thunder took advantage as junior Jarek Hilgers (8 carries,
97 yards) scored from a yard out to close within 28-21 with 4:37
left in the third quarter.
Desert Vista game-tying drive was ignited by Smith's 46-yard
reception on third and 13 from its own 45. He had to extend himself
as the pass from Rodriguez (16 of 21 for 181) was almost too long,
but Smith caught it and fell down at the Saguaro 11-yard line.
"I wanted to score, but couldn't keep my feet," he said. "Hunter
put it out there perfectly. I had a double move and as soon as I
cleared (the defender) I thought it was going to be a touchdown,
but couldn't finish it off."
Arredondo eventually did as he pulled the game even at 28 with
Saguaro had two chances to answer but DV's Ryan Wagner
intercepted Rubenzer, which led to Goldfein's second field goal
After a Sabercat punt the Thunder got the ball on their own 28
with just over 3 minutes left. Matt Geranen converted a third and 8
on a great catch and extension for the first to ignite the drive
that led to Goldfein's game-winner.
It was clear that Desert Vista eventually wore down the
Sabercats, but Saguaro coach John Sanders was pleased with the
"I am very proud," he said. "We are not a very big school. To
play a team like this, this tough, they know they were in a
"When my guys never leave the field, the thing we are concerned
about always is depth. It's getting worn down and nicked. It is
tough to defend them. At the end of the day, the kids did a great
job with what we had."
NOTE: Scottsdale police and school secrurity was called to the
Desert Vista locker room after the game as it appeared some of the
players had their belongings taken during the game.