Photo by JC Amberlyn.
KINGMAN – The Kingman High School football team was cruising Friday after quarterback Miguel Salinas hit James Carter in the back of the end zone for a 20-8 lead in the third quarter against Phoenix ASU Prep.
The Bulldogs, which haven’t won a homecoming game since beating Desert Christian in 2002, appeared as though they were on their way to their first victory of the young season.
And then someone let the air out of tires. Suddenly the Sun Devils were making all the plays in the second half and they scored 20 unanswered points on the way to a 28-20 victory, spoiling homecoming for the Bulldogs.
“That was the worst high school football team I’ve ever seen that drove up here from Phoenix. And we just lost to them, and I’m the head coach,” said a dejected Cam Wierson. “It’s just a bad day.”
“We’re a better team than them, but when you turn the ball over five times you can’t win. We had a couple of kids, for lack of a better term, crap the bed,” Wierson said.
The Bulldogs, looking to snap a 15-game home losing streak, leaped out to the lead in the first quarter after a sack and fumble recovery by Austin Reed. With 9:34 left, Salinas found Damon Heidorf for a 12-yard TD pass for a 6-0 lead.
That cushion was short-lived, as Ben Chambliss took the ensuing kickoff 65 yards to paydirt, and with a two-point conversion, the Sun Devils (1-2, 3A Metro) held an 8-6 lead.
The Bulldogs (0-4, 3A West) appeared to climb back on top when Reed took a handoff and scored on a 15-yard jaunt, but a penalty nullified the score. Reed, who rushed 24 times for 105 yards, ran it to paydirt again, this time from 14 yards out.
After Jeremy Stewart rambled in for the two-point conversion, the Bulldogs were back on top 14-8 with 6:07 before intermission.
The Bulldogs went up 20-8 after the spectacular TD reception by Carter. Salinas was rolling right trying to escape pressure and lofted up a pass that Carter snagged despite tight coverage. Carter somehow came down with the pigskin and got a foot in. It appeared this was the night the Bulldogs were going to end two undesirable streaks they were carrying with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
A 5-yard scoring pass from Mike Li to Manuel Coronel chipped away at the Bulldog lead 20-16, just before the end of the third quarter.
The Sun Devils, who outgained the Bulldogs in total yardage 271-244, then added two more touchdowns.
The first came when Gabriel Olivas outjumped the Bulldogs secondary for the ball at midfield and scored on a 74-yard catch and run with 9:01 left in the game, making it 22-20. That was followed by Jacob Aguirre hammering it in from five yards out for the 28-20 lead with 2:29 showing on the scoreboard.
Salinas, who was 10-of-17 for 90 yards and two TDs, tried to pass the Bulldogs to a tying score, but he was constantly mobbed by the Sun Devil pass rush. During one stretch he was sacked on three consecutive plays.
The Bulldogs’ running game was diminished when starting running back Jeremy Stewart suffered a leg injury in the third quarter. He finished with 87 yards on nine carries.
Kingman gets back on the gridiron Friday when it travels to meet Queen Creek Casteel (4-0, 3A Metro) for a 7 p.m. kickoff.