The team that wins the turnover battle usually wins the game. It proved true Friday night as Campo Verde beat Westwood, 28-14.
In an otherwise even game, the Coyotes (6-1) forced four second half turnovers. Those turnovers turned out to be the difference maker on this night.
“We were lucky to get out of here with a win,” Campo Verde coach Max Ragsdale said. “That’s a good football team over there. We thought it would come down to turnovers. We were able to force them just clubbing at the ball and being at the right place and getting to the ball in a bad mood.”
Campo Verde and Westwood (4-3) exchanged touchdown drives on their opening possessions, but the defenses settled in after and did not allow another score in the first half.
Coming out of halftime, the two teams again matched touchdown drives on their first possessions. Each team went three-and-out after, and eventually the Warriors took over deep in their own territory. On the first play, running back Dezmond Sueing - who had an otherwise stellar night with 130 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries - fumbled and the Coyotes recovered.
Two plays later, quarterback Luke Pineda connected with receiver Jordan Fickas on a 13-yard strike to give Campo Verde a 21-14 lead. Pineda was an efficient 12 of 17 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown.
After both teams punted, Westwood quarterback McKay Tingey was intercepted by Coyotes safety Erik Hildebrandt, one of his two interceptions on the night.
To make matters worse, the intended receiver on the play, Sueing, was injured. He was unable to return to the game, depriving the Warriors of their best playmaker.
On the next play, running back Gabriel Ogbonnaya ripped off a 53-yard run to set up Campo Verde in the red zone. Zac Wheeler capped off the drive with a five yard touchdown run to give Campo Verde a 28-14 lead.
Ogbonnaya was the workhorse for the Coyotes, rushing for 168 yards on 23 carries.
“Offensively, we just had to switch gears in the second half and make some adjustments,” Ragsdale said. “We came out and did some things a little bit better than we did in the first half. We paid more attention to detail. “We weren’t doing the things that got us here. Just fundamental stuff. We were crappy in the first half and came back better in the second half.”
Westwood tried to make a comeback, but Tingey was intercepted twice more on their final two drives, ending any chance. Tingey was making his first start of the season for the Warriors, finally healthy after suffering an ACL injury last season. Coach Spencer Stowers said that Tingey’s rustiness was not to blame for the interceptions.
“He’s a good quarterback. We rely heavily on McKay. We relied heavily on him this game to make a lot of plays, and he did make a lot of plays. Some of the throws he made were on us as coaches.”
Campo Verde 28, Westwood 14
First Downs: Campo Verde 25, Westwood 15
Rushing: Campo Verde 47-243, Westwood 28-168
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): Campo Verde 12-17-120-2-0, Westwood 12-24-126-1-3
Fumbles-Lost: Campo Verde 1-1, Westwood 1-1
Penalties-yards: Campo Verde 4-40, Westwood 5-48
Campo Verde 7 0 14 7 - 28
Westwood 7 0 7 0 – 14
Westwood: Sueing 63 run (Arambula kick)
Campo Verde: Pineda 17 run (Wells kick)
Campo Verde: Belcher 14 pass from Pineda (Wells kick)
Westwood: Brown 21 kick from Tingey (Arambula kick)
Campo Verde; Fickas 13 pass from Pineda (Wells kick)
Campo Verde: Wheeler 5 run (Wells kick)