Gila Ridge holds off Lake Havasu
The seniors of Gila Ridge ended their high school football careers with a 42-35 victory over Lake Havasu.
Gila Ridge coach Jay Denton said the Hawks (7-3) came out with a lot of intensity, and ready to leave it all on the field, and leave it on the field they did.
The Hawks led 28-14 in the third quarter when the teams started trading touchdowns in the game's final 16 minutes, with the lead bouncing between seven and 14 points.
“We played well. We stuck in there, we made plays and were consistent in offense. It's always good to win the last one,” Denton said. “We did a good job at pounding the ball and our defense did a good job at adjusting.”
The game opened with senior quarterback Scotty Nickerson leading the Hawks on a 12-play 68-yard drive, marching them all the way down to the 5-yard line before taking the direct snap and smashing his way into the endzone, giving Gila Ridge the 7-0 advantage with six minutes left in the first.
With the Hawks up 7-6, sophomore Dalon Perkins intercepted Grady Atkins' pass and returned it to set the Hawks up with a first-and-goal from the 6-yard line. Gila Ridge capitalized on the turnover two plays later when Jordan Klostreich snuck in from 4-yards out to give the Hawks the 14-6 lead.
Perkins picked another Atkins pass with 2:35 left in the half in a 14-14 game. Nickerson went 4 for 4 passing on the nine play drive and finally snuck it in from a yard out to give the Hawks the 21-14 lead with about 15 seconds left in the half.
On the Hawks first possession of the second half, junior running back Jason Pajas rammed his way through Knights to score from 6-yards out.
Lake Havasu came roaring back just four plays later to cut the lead back to seven. Then Gila Ridge quickly answered back with a couple of bruising runs from Branden Kehl, setting up Nickerson to toss a 20-yard touchdown pass to Justin Akset as Gila Ridge went up 35-21.
Both defenses settled down until the final five minutes when Gabe Tingstrom caught an Atkins 9-yard pass to bring the Knights within one score with 4:30 left in the game. Sensing the end was near, Gila Ridge was running the ball to kill the clock until Klostreich sprinted to the outside and rumbled 37 yards to put the game out of reach with 31 seconds left to play. The Knights would not let the game end that way. On the ensuing kickoff, Junior Sam Tshibangu, returning from injury, returned the kick 60 yards to end the high-scoring game 42-35.