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Hampton, special teams power Shamrock blowout over Tonopah
Ricky Hampton said he felt responsible for the seven points Tonopah scored on its first drive Friday against Yuma Catholic at Ricky Gwynn Stadium.
He couldn't take those off the board, so instead he put points on the board for the Shamrocks.
Hampton had a 65-yard reception, an 18-yard pass and 73-yard punt return for scores — one of three special teams touchdowns for YC — in a 71-14 win against the Phoenix.
Hampton was beat for a 61-yard pass from Jaden Masch to Efrain Rocha on the second play of the game, setting up a fourth-and-goal touchdown pass from the 5, also from Masch to Rocha to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:02 left.
“The first two plays, I'll take the blame for that,” Hampton said. “I gave up the two big plays and the touchdown. I think we should have had the shutout.”
The Phoenix's first play was an 11-yard run, giving them 72 yards on their first two plays. By the time the Shamrocks (8-1) pulled their starters with a 71-1 lead after the third quarter, the Phoenix had 69 total yards.
“That first long pass was a bad read on our part. Our DB looked at the quarterback instead of playing his man,” YC coach Rhett Stallworth said. “That's a crucial mistake, and they were fortunate enough to call the right play at the right time. I don't think that receiver did anything else the rest of the night.”
The tied game didn't last long as Andy Determan returned the ensuing kick 83 yards to put the Shamrocks up 15-7. Carter Rodriguez came up with an interception later for the Shamrocks, leading to an 8-yard run by Kody Hazlett for a touchdown — he finished with three touchdowns and 204 yards on 15 carries.
On the next drive the Shamrocks forced a three-and-out, and Hampton returned the punt for a touchdown with 4 seconds left, turning the game into a rout at 29-7.
Late in the third quarter, Marco Pericone blocked a punt that Peter Hurtado ran in 29 yards for a 71-7 lead. The touchdown was scored with 9.8 seconds left in the third quarter, but thanks to the running clock the extra point was kicked with 11:39 left in the fourth quarter at the opposite end of the field.
“We expected the kick return, it's something we work on a lot,” Stallworth said. “The punt return, it's a little different for us. We do a lot of downing of the punts so the offense can work on things. But when you get into later games down the road, you don't have that luxury of downing punts. You need every yard you can get. So we let loose the punt team tonight. We let him return one punt, and he took it to the house.”
Hampton said his early miscues motivated his performance throughout the game — although his touchdown catch came before his defensive slip-up. He streaked past the Tonopah defense and quarterback Jagan Cleary hit him in stride on the second play of the game, just 56 seconds into the contest.
“Offense and defense are big parts of games, but no one looks at special teams,” Hampton said. “Special teams wins championships, playoff games, Super Bowls, everything. It wasn't just the returner making the plays, it was the blocking. Everyone did what they had to do and it paid off.”
The receiver and defensive back even threw for a touchdown in the second quarter. He took a handoff from Rodriguez out of the Wildcat formation and hit a wide open Cleary for an easy score and a 50-7 lead.
Cleary had 117 passing yards and the one touchdown pass to Hampton. Yuma Catholic ran just one play in the fourth quarter thanks to a long Phoenix (2-7) drive that ended in a touchdown against the Shamrock third string. That drive netted 75 of the Phoenix's total offense for the night.