Salpointe Catholic came out on top in a battle between two Southern Arizona powerhouses Friday night as they defeated the Cienega Bobcats 37-13 in Vail.
Both Cienega and Salpointe were coming off uncharacteristic big losses last week to Phoenix-area schools, and the first half was a tightly contested game before Salpointe shut out Cienega in the second half.
The Lancers got the scoring started midway through the first quarter, when Dailan Goodman scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to make it 6-0 after a missed PAT.
A Cienega fumble gave the Lancers excellent field position at the Bobcat 30-yard line, but they were only able to get a field goal. Carson Fiske converted and made it a 9-0 ballgame early.
But Cienega’s defense began to settle down a bit and was able to hold Salpointe out of the endzone. The Bobcats then marched down the field and capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run from RB Edgar Garcia, making the score 9-6.
Abram Bury made an excellent play for Cienega, jarring the ball loose from the Lancer ball carrier and gave the Bobcats momentum after their touchdown drive.
The Bobcats capitalized when Brayden Cherry tossed a 16-yard touchdown to Ari Dubin and all of the sudden, Cienega was in complete control of the ball game at 13-9 after a shaky start.
Penalties plagued the first half for Salpointe. Coach Eric Rogers was not pleased with his team’s performance to start the game when it came to unnecessary mistakes.
“Honestly, that first half, I was not very pleased,” he said. “Just undisciplined, not knowing what we need to do and we were in a football game, 16-13. So I told them at halftime, ‘If we don’t beat ourselves, I’m pretty sure we can go out there and play a really good second half.'”
NO. 7 SALPOINTE (6-4)Lancers compete in the 6A East Valley. *Region game. + 6A playoffs. Games are at 7 p.m.
|9/2||@ Chaparral||L, 23-20 OT||0-1||0-0|
|9/9||@ Boulder Creek||W, 35-22||1-1||0-0|
|9/23||@ Cienega||W, 37-13||2-2||0-0|
|10/7||Mica Mountain||W, 55-14||3-2||0-0|
|10/14||@ Red Mountain*||L, 27-24||3-3||0-1|
|10/21||Williams Field*||W, 31-14||4-3||1-1|
|11/4||Mesa Mountain View*||W, 26-0||6-3||2-1|
|11/10||@ Queen Creek*||L, 12-6||6-4||2-2|
The Lancers responded with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Fredo Sotelo to Gage Felix. This would be the first of two touchdowns on the night for Felix, who Rogers said is a big part of the offense weekly.
“Truthfully, he is part of the gameplan every week. We just gotta keep finding ways to get him the ball,” Rogers said.
Felix finished with 103 yards receiving to go along with his two touchdowns.
His quarterback, Sotelo, finished with 209 yards through the air and three touchdowns.
At the half, Salpointe led Cienega 16-13. Cienega’s student section was rowdy and greeted the Lancers in only a way that an opposing crowd could as they headed to the locker room for the break.
The Lancers attacked the matchup with Felix once again to start the second half, going to him for a 31-yard touchdown to extend their lead 23-13.
Felix talked about his night and summed it up with a very simple explanation.
“I was open, is what it was,” he said. “I played my game, and me being confident and me feeling like no one can guard me, it just gives me a boost.”
Lancers quickly broke this game open, intercepting a Cienega pass and taking it back for a touchdown to make it 30-13. Connor Raetzman was able to step in front and take it the distance.
Cienega showed fight in their next drive, including an excellent fourth down conversion by receiver Keron Watson on a jump ball down the sideline. An additional 15 yards were tacked on for pass interference, and the Bobcats started the fourth quarter deep in Lancer territory.
However, the Bobcat threat would come to an end shortly thereafter, when Salpointe’s defensive held on another fourth down attempt.
Rogers was impressed with his defense in the second half after Cienega had some success moving the ball in the first. Rogers said that his talk with the team stressed the importance of doing their job.
“Most of that first half was us beating ourselves. And so, we just needed to settle down and do our job,” he said. “We talked all week about ‘Do your job to the very best of your ability.’ That is what we have control over and go out and execute and play. The efforts there. Now we just got to execute a little bit better.”
Following the stop, the Lancers put the game away thanks to an incredible play by Nate Spivey on a route down the Lancer sideline, reaching up with one hand and grabbing it as a Cienega defender ran by and was able to take it to the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown reception, putting the final score on the board 37-13.
Cienega (1-2) will look to bounce back as it travels to face Desert Edge in Goodyear on Friday.
Salpointe (2-2) will have a bye week before facing Mica Mountain at home the following week (Oct. 7).
Both teams have not played any section opponents and will not until mid-October.
NO. 20 CIENEGA (5-5, 4-1)Bobcats compete in the 5A Southern. *Region game. Games at 7 p.m.
|9/2||@ Catalina Foothills||W, 41-21||1-0||0-0|
|9/30||@ Desert Edge||L, 52-21||1-3||0-0|
|10/21||@ Ironwood Ridge*||W, 27-6||3-4||2-0|
|10/28||@ Desert View*||W, 36-26||4-4||3-0|
|11/4||@ Mountain View*||L, 38-37 OT||4-5||3-1|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Harrison Moreno is a southern Arizona native who has watched Wildcat athletics since he was young kid. He recently is a graduate of The University of Arizona’s School of Journalism, with a focus in broadcast and audio journalism.