Horizon used a pair of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns to seize a big lead early and beat Cactus Shadows, 49-15, Thursday night in Division II, Section III action.
“It’s a real big win for us and defensively we made some great plays in the first half,” Horizon coach Steve Casey said.
Leading 7-0, Horizon defensive back Josh Glidden picked off Cactus Shadows quarterback Bryce Kinsler on fourth down. Glidden caught the floater at his own 20-yard line and ran it back 80 yards for the score.
“I was reading the quarterback and made the play,” Glidden said, “Pressure forced him to throw a bad pass and I capitalized on it.”
The next offensive series for Cactus Shadows (2-5, 2-2) ended just as poorly. With the Falcons marching down the field they faced second-and-goal on the Huskies’ five-yard line.
Kinsler looked for a receiver in the left corner of the end zone but Horizon’s Ryan Neel stepped in front of the pass and ran it back 102 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 Huskies lead.
“It could have easily been 7-7,” Casey said, “Going from 7-0 to 21-0 was huge for us.”
Cactus Shadows got on the board with a touchdown from Matt Hartlen when he caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kinsler midway through the second quarter to make it 21-7.
Horizon (4-3, 4-0) responded on its next offensive play with Victor Quinn hitting Julian Perea-Schaefer on a 29-yard touchdown pass down the seam to restore a three-score edge at 28-7.
Kinsler was picked off for a third time in the half and the second time by Glidden. The Huskies cashed in on that turnover four plays later when Quinn hit Dushawn Brown for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 55.7 seconds left in the half to make it 35-7.
“It killed us,” Cactus Shadows head coach Greg Davis said, “The bad timing on huge mistakes has been the key to a couple losses for us.”
The Falcons’ offense slowed down even further when Kinsler didn’t play the second half after suffering a thumb injury on his throwing hand.
After stopping Cactus Shadows on six plays inside the Huskies 10-yard line, Horizon padded its lead further. Brett Poh plowed in from two yards out late in the third quarter for a 42-7 lead. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Horizon made it 49-7 with a Kristian Salinas' 3-yard touchdown catch.
RJ Anderson added a 13-yard touchdown run with 5:42 left for Cactus Shadows to round out the scoring. Bryan Lynn rushed for a two-point conversion.
Up next, Horizon takes on Phoenix Camelback while Cactus Shadows meets Notre Dame.
“It’s going to get tougher down the road,” Casey said, “We have a couple tough ones (Chaparral and Notre Dame) left on our schedule.”