Penalties almost cost Chandler Valley Christian their homecoming game, but they fought back from a 7-point first half deficit to beat rival Phoenix Northwest Christian 27-20 in the end.
Valley Christian (7-1, 4-0 2A Central) started the game with a bang, scoring their first touchdown in just 3 plays on a 3-yard run by senior Troy Roffi. Then came the rash of penalties that almost proved insurmountable.
The first half saw a combined 18 penalties for 161 yards between the two teams. 101 of those yards were against the Trojans, making for a difficult second quarter in which the Crusaders (6-2, 2-2) scored all of their 20 points.
Head coach Bill Morgan left the field arguing with the officials about the game-slowing penalties and did not come return for the second half, but his team put together a successful comeback without him on the sidelines.
Quarterback Stephen Sasso led the way for the Trojans with 66 yards passing and 62 rushing, including three touchdowns. Anthony Kereluk added 124 yards rushing and a two-point conversion.
It took a few minutes to build momentum in the third quarter as Valley Christian worked its way down the field on the opening drive, but once they found the end zone, they took control of the game.
The Valley defense forced Crusader quarterback Jacob Franz to throw 11 incomplete passes and one interception in the second half, and sacked him on fourth down in good field position to set up the winning drive.
That drive was led by Kereluk, who broke away on a 41-yard run to bring the Trojans to the 4-yard-line and set up a quick run into the end zone for Sasso. After that, all of the Crusaders’ attempts to make a play fell short, and Valley walked off the field with another win.
The Trojans head to Scottsdale Christian next week with the Central Region title on the line. Both teams are 4-0 in league play heading into the season finale.