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Gila Ridge gets second straight win, pounds Kofa
Gila Ridge scored 15 points in its first five games.
Now the Hawks have 86 in their last two after a 35-6 win at Kofa on Friday night.
"Winning is big, and we won the ball game," said coach Tom Hurt after his team improved to 2-0 in Division II Section V, joining Cibola and Lake Havasu with perfect records.. "Now the kids will be ready for next week because of that. It picks them up. We're not out of this thing yet. We didn't try to score a lot of points, we played a lot of kids."
And even though it was the sixth loss in seven games for the Kings (1-6 overall, 0-2 section), coach John Blabe said he saw a lot of improvement from his team, which wracked up 262 total yards, including 149 through the air for Tim Baumgarner.
The Hawks (2-5, 2-0) scored 14 in the first quarter. DiAndre Smith scored the first Hawk touchdown on a 1-yard run, then after a 70-yard punt return by Jacob Kilgore, quarterback Brandon Kehl sneaked in from 4 out. Kilgore then intercepted a Baumgarner pass and went 82 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 6:26 left in the half.
But the Kings responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 2-yard Alonso Aguirre run with 36 seconds left.
"We were down 21-6 and one of them was the punt return and one was the intercept," Blabe said. "We were playing with them up and down the field. This is the first time all year, other than Antelope, we moved the ball up and down the field. We get over 200 yards of offense, for these guys that's fantastic. We had to rely on the pass. They had eight guys in the box all night. We did the best we could. We passed, and ran the ball sparingly. And I thought we did a decent job compared to when were losing 47-0."
In the third, Kofa started to drive but fumbled. However the Hawks went three-and-out. The Kings began to drive again, marching down to the Gila Ridge 29 when Baumgarner threw his second interception of the game. Bobby Mena returned it 82 yards for a score until a penalty away from the ball brought the ball back to the Hawk 43.
"It's a great feeling to see the touchdown, but it hurts to know we made a stupid mistake," Mena said. "But it's all right. It doesn't matter. We still came out on top."
The Hawks scored on the drive anyway on a 4-yard run by Kainoa Renaud as time wound down in the third, then got a 26-yard punt return from Mena to set up the Hawks on the Kofa 11. Mena punched it in two plays later from 6 out and a 35-6 lead.
"Defensively we did good, put all our players on lockdown," Mena said. "Team victory, for sure."
Gila Ridge outgained the Kings 346-262. The Hawks had five players with at least 30 rushing yards and no player with more than seven carries. Kehl's 37 yards led the way. Baumgarner had 43 yards to lead the Kings' ground game, though many of those were on scrambles.
"Timmy at times looked very good, and at times didn't do what he was supposed to," Blabe said. "But I guess that's a first- year quarterback. He probably threw for more yardage than he has all year."
Hurt said the Hawk defense has been rough at times this year. He told the players at halftime that despite dominating – they had a drive go down to the 9-yard line that ended as time expired in the first half and held the Kings to just more than 100 yards of total offense in the first half – they had to keep up defensive intensity.
"We just told them to continue to play good defense. Sometimes we're our own worst enemy," Hurt said. "So we told them to go out and play good solid football."
Mena said the team has moved on from a slow start and is focused on being 3-0 after playing Yuma High. With Cibola and Havasu meeting next week, there will be no more than two perfect teams.
"We're just turning the page, come back fighting every day," Mena said. "We have a good group of guys, good group of coaches."
And Blabe said Kofa needs to work on turning that page heading into its next game against San Luis.
"We have to leave what's behind, behind," Blabe said. "We're 1-6 and there's no escaping that. We just go on from here and take one at a time."