For the second week in a row, the Gila Ridge defense forced a late turnover on downs to seal a victory.

This time, it came in a game that was a defensive battle throughout — a 10-7 victory over Central (Calif.) in El Centro on Friday.

The Hawks (3-0 overall) led most of the night, getting a 25-yard field goal from Pablo Vargas in the first quarter and a Kaleb Cota to Jaden Delorme touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to go up 10-0.

Central (3-1) scored on its next possession, and then forced a Gila Ridge punt to get the ball back with a chance at a game-winning drive. But the Spartans stalled at midfield, unable to convert a 4th-and-7 with about 1:30 remaining.

“The defense played lights out,” Gila Ridge coach John Ellegood said. “Our defensive line had a heck of a game, our linebackers had a heck of a game, and our defensive backs didn’t let much go over the top of them.”

Anthony Mejia had two interceptions for the Hawks’ defense.

Cota threw for 230 yards, while Renan Duarte rushed for 120.

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