CASA GRANDE - Division V teams are not expected to be successful when facing Division III teams.
Valley Christian shattered that notion Friday night, stunning Casa Grande, 32-27.
The Cougars (1-3) were fortunate enough to be in position to pull out a victory when they took a 27-26 lead on Nick Elliott’s 61-yard touchdown run and Taylor Walton’s extra-point kick with 7:39 remaining. But back came the Trojans, who responded with a 67-yard TD drive that took only five plays.
TJ Widner’s 15-yard scoring pass to Spencer Richardson with 5:06 left capped a bountiful night for Valley Christian (2-2), which rushed for 302 of its 402 total yards.
"Our offense got into a good groove and drove the ball on key possessions when we needed to score," Trojans coach Kevin Allen said.
Elliott also had touchdown runs of 64 and 41 yards, and the Cougars reached the end zone after recovering a fumble at the Valley Christian 15 to take a 7-0 lead on their second possession. But they could not put together a sustained drive against the Trojans, who sacked Elliott six times and stopped CG Union on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter — the first time at the Valley Christian 32.
Coming off an impressive 35-8 victory over cross-town rival Vista Grande, the Cougars did not perform anywhere near the level they did the prior week.
“That was my biggest worry,” Casa Grande coach Larry Branson said. “We hadn’t faced (a situation) where we had success and had to rise to the occasion and not take a step backward. We let (Valley Christian) control us too much. We didn’t dictate, and there’s no excuse for that.”
The Trojans led 19-14 at halftime after putting together touchdown drives of 58 yards in five plays, 40 yards in seven plays and 52 yards in eight plays.
"We were able to keep them off-guard with our traps and counters," Allen said. "That was our game plan - to keep possession of the ball and win with field position."
They began the second half with a 12-play TD drive that covered 69 yards.
Valley Christian finished with 23 first downs, 10 more than the Cougars.
Other than Elliott’s TD runs, Casa Grande was held to 74 yards rushing on 35 attempts, a 2.1 average. Elliott rushed for 201 yards on 23 attempts and completed 4 for 10 passes for 48 yards, with one interception.
Widner’s 1-yard sneak on fourth down gave the Trojans a 13-7 lead with 1:37 remaining in the first, and Spencer Richardson had a 14-yard touchdown run with 2:41 left in the second quarter.
Cory Kasperson’s 3-yard TD run capped Valley Christian’s opening drive of the second half. Corbin rushed for 136 yards on 15 carries, and Kasperson gained 104 on 14 attempts.