For the second straight week, Scottsdale Desert Mountain can look to its turnover margin as a major cause in defeat.
The Wolves (2-6) committed five - the same amount it had in a 38-21 loss to Gilbert Highland last week - including an opening drive fumble into the end zone - in a 48-23 loss to Surprise Willow Canyon at Desert Mountain Friday.
"Five turnovers last week and five turnovers this week, we've got to secure the ball and until we do that we're going to struggle," said Desert Mountain coach Tony Tabor. "We've got to take care of ourselves."
After DJ Olmstead's interception ended Willow Canyon's opening drive, the Wolves methodically drove to the Wildcats' 2, but Daniel Fedorka fumbled right before he reached the end zone and Willow Canyon recovered.
It was sign of things to come. The Wolves, trailing 13-9 late in the first half, had moved into Willow Canyon territory when receiver Cody Erickson was stripped of the ball after a reception at the Willow Canyon 20-yard line.
Quarterback Kyle Allen was intercepted by the Wildcats' Deonte Smith on the opening drive of the second half at the Willow Canyon 3.
The Wildcats went 97 yards on 13 plays, taking 6:31 off the clock, to take a 20-9 lead. Quarterback Taylor Nezdoba took off from the Desert Mountain 29, he fumbled at the 10, but running back J.D. Espree gathered the ball and waltzed in for a touchdown.
Desert Mountain fumbled again on its next offensive play and five plays later Willow Canyon had scored again.
"We moved the ball, but you can't afford to make that many mistakes against a team that runs the ball that well," added Tabor.
Willow Canyon had three rushers with 100 yards or more. Anthony Thompson, who answered Desert Mountain's initial touchdown and 6-0 lead, with an 80-yard sprint for six, had 13 carries for 134 yards. Nezdoba had 10 carries for 131 yards and Espree ran 17 times for 117.
Willow Canyon female kicker Desiree Justus made six of seven PATs.