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Perry downs Gila Ridge 48-21
The Perry football team has beaten Gila Ridge every year they've faced each other since both schools fielded a varsity team in 2008.
Now that streak is up to four games in five years.
With a no-huddle offense, Perry used long drives and big plays to beat the Hawks 48-21 on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“It was an old story here all year — we'll play well for a while and have no consistency. We'll play well, then have a breakdown and they capitalized,” Gila Ridge coach Jay Denton said.
With Gila Ridge (3-2) starting quarterback Scotty Nickerson out because of an injury, sophomore quarterback Brandon Kehl stepped in for the Hawks. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound sophomore went 5 for 12 with 78 yards and three touchdowns, as well as an interception at the end of the half. Kehl also had 21 carries for 85 yards despite being sacked five times.
“We ran the same offense. I ran the ball a few more times but that was dictated by the defense they were giving us. We didn't change anything in our offense because of the quarterback,” Denton said.
“It's definitely better (to know you're going to start),” Kehl said about the week leading up to the game. “I'm ready all the time. We're always pushing each other so we're prepared for this.”
Also back for the Hawks for his first time playing regularly was junior running back Adam Williams, who finished with 48 yards on 15 carries after dealing with a nagging injury all season.
Both teams opened up the game with long drives, but Perry was the one to take advantage. Gila Ridge started with a 12-play drive and got as far as the Perry 25-yard line, but Kehl was sacked twice to end the threat. After taking over on downs, Perry (3-2) used their no-huddle spread offense to march down the field and scored on a 4-yard run by senior Nicholas Brickous on the 10th play of the drive.
“When you line up, especially in our defense, we have a lot of shifts, so when the other team is hurrying up, sometimes you don't hear it as clearly as other times,” Gila Ridge senior defensive lineman Kevin Vizcarra said.
Gila Ridge got a break when senior Robbie Mecham came up with a 74-yard punt that pinned the Pumas down to their own 4. Perry managed to sneak out of danger but chose to go for it on a fourth-and-8 on their own 21 and a pass from Taelon Parson was dropped by a wide open Jackson Spilsbury. After a long run by Kehl and two runs by Williams, the sophomore quarterback hit sophomore receiver Dalon Perkins in the left flat for an 8-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 midway through the second.
However, late in the second quarter, Kehl tried to hit Perkins again on the left sideline, but Brickous stepped inside and intercepted it and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with less than a minute to go to give the Pumas a 27-7 lead into halftime.
“I knew I wanted to get it outside, and what happened is I underthrew it. Dalon didn't really have the upper hand but I had to get it out there,” Kehl said.
Perry scored on a 15-yard bootleg by Parson on their first drive, then Gila Ridge went on their only drive of the third quarter. The 14-play trek ended when Kehl rolled to his right and found Vizcarra in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown connection. In the Hawks' final drive of the night, Kehl connected with senior Alec Wilson twice for 56 yards — including a 24-yard touchdown pass.
After starting the year with three losses, Gila Ridge has dropped two straight games and will host El Centro-Central on Friday at home.
“We keep working on something different each week and hopefully we're getting closer to putting it all together when we get into the final half of the season,” Denton said.