Chandler High School’s football team is thankful Dion Jordan is talented and athletic enough to catch passes and harass quarterbacks.
They should also be thankful he’s 6-foot-6.
The senior tight end/defensive end turned in two of the game’s key plays as Chandler (5-1) held on to beat Gilbert Highland, 14-13, in a Fiesta Region opener for both teams Friday at Austin Field.
Jordan’s plays came within a three-minute stretch of the second quarter. After Highland (4-2) scored a touchdown to take a 13-7 lead, Jordan needed all 78 inches of his frame — and his vertical jump — to block Mike DiGangi’s extra-point attempt.
Five plays later, Jordan caught a 47-yard scoring pass from Payton Lacivita to tie the game at 13. The 215-pound Jordan caught the ball at the Hawks’ 30-yard line, slipped a tackle at the 20 and cruised into the end zone untouched the rest of the way.
Thomas Farfan added the extra point for a 14-13 Chandler lead, with four minutes, eight seconds remaining in the first half. Jordan finished with five receptions for 112 yards.
“There’s a reason we put him in the middle,” Chandler coach Jim Ewan said of Jordan’s placement on the extra-point block team. “He’s 6-foot-6 and can jump. We work on that quite a bit.”
What the Wolves will be working on more and more in the coming weeks is taking better care of the ball. But it was a Highland turnover that proved to be the most costly.
Chandler, which dominated in total yardage, 420-172, committed three turnovers.
The Wolves, who were also penalized seven times for 94 yards, failed on a fourth-and-3 play from the Highland 41 with about four minutes remaining. The Hawks took over possession, but on their first play, Chandler’s Lee Peyton recovered Highland’s only fumble of the game.
From there the Wolves ran out the clock, getting three first downs despite facing a first-and-23 on its first play.
“Our defense bailed us out,” Ewan said. “They made up for my dumb decision to go for it. They had two weeks to prepare for us and they really got after us.”
Lacivita completed 15 of 18 passes for 197 yards.
Vitals: Chandler High School (1-0, 5-1) used a blocked extra-point to escape with a 14-13 win over visiting Gilbert Highland (0-1, 4-2) in a Class 5A-I Fiesta Region opener Friday.
Highlight: Dion Jordan blocked a second-quarter extra-point and then caught a 53-yard scoring pass that proved to be the difference.
Player of the game: Chandler quarterback Payton Lacivita completed 15 of 18 passes for 197 yards and one score. He completed 11 consecutive passes during one stretch and a dropped pass was his only blemish in the second half.
Key stat: Chandler’s defense limited Highland to only 132 yards of offense and recorded its only turnover in the game’s final four minutes.