Only 22 minutes of football was played between Tempe and Saguaro Friday, but that was more than enough for the Buffaloes on this night.
The team chose not to come out of the locker room for the second half of a 31-0 forfeit loss to the third-ranked Sabercats at Saguaro.
Three severe injuries to Tempe players is what set off the Tempe coaching staff, according to Saguaro coach Jason Mohns.
The first injury occurred in the first quarter, when Tempe wide receiver Massiah Smith had to be helped off the field after being hurt following a catch.
Early in the second, with the score 18-0, Tempe quarterback Emanuel Gant was hit by two Saguaro players, one of whom was called for a personal foul for grabbing Gant's facemask. Gant remained down on the field and was attended to by trainers for nearly 30 minutes. An ambulance arrived and he was taken out of the stadium, his neck stabilized as a precautionary measure.
Mohns acknowledged the play was a penalty, but said there was no ill intent behind it.
"Our kids aren't trying to hurt anybody," he said. "(Tempe's coaches) kind of reacted like we were trying to go after (Gant). The Tempe coaches felt that whatever we were doing wasn't the right thing. All I know is I can look our (athletic director) and our principal, and I can look our kids in the eye and know that we're not coaching kids that way."
A few minutes after play resumed, Jordan Wiatr also had to be looked at by trainers after he was hit while returning a kickoff. While Wiatr was on the ground, Tempe coach Brian Walker ran across the field in the direction of the Saguaro sideline. Walker was stopped before he reached the opposing sideline, but was ejected from the game for his actions.
Wiatr was carted off the field, but remained seated on the sideline for the remainder of the game.
After play resumed, Tempe was forced to punt from its own 1-yard line with 1:33 remaining in the half. On the punt, junior Terry'on Wycoff went down away from the ball and also needed medical attention. A second ambulance came to Saguaro and took Wycoff off the field.
After five minutes of deliberation, the referees sent the teams to their respective locker rooms, ending the first half early.
Tempe refused to come back onto the field and instead boarded its buses and left halfway through the 15-minute break.
"All we can control is our team and what we do," Mohns said. "We're going to watch film; if we have kids that did anything that's deemed dirty or cheap, then those kids will be disciplined because that's not the program we are. We're not out here trying to hurt anybody and I hope that's not the message that Tempe left with."
Even before the injuries slowed and eventually stopped play, the game was constantly interrupted by penalties. Tempe (2-1) lost 82 yards on 12 penalties, while Saguaro (2-1) was flagged 14 times for 123 yards.
Offensively, Saguaro looked better than it had all season with exceptional performances by quarterback Luke Rubenzer and wide receiver Christian Kirk. Rubenzer completed 10-of-11 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns. Kirk had 84 yards receiving on three catches, two of which went for touchdowns. It was Kirk's first game of the year after missing the first two with a concussion. He also had an interception he returned for 35 yards.
Saguaro 31, Tempe 0
Tempe: 0 0 -- 0
Saguaro: 12 19 -- 31
S: Kash Robinson 12 run (PAT no good)
S: Seth Seminara 20 pass from Rubenzer (PAT no good)
S: Kash Robinson 8 pass from Rubenzer (PAT no good)
S: Christian Kirk 18 pass from Rubenzer (PAT no good)
S: Christian Kirk 52 pass from Rubenzer
First Downs: Tempe 8; Saguaro 9
Rushes-Yards: Tempe 12-21; Saguaro 13-77
Passing Yards: Tempe 201; Saguaro 225
Comp-Att-Int: Tempe 11-24-1; Saguaro 10-11-0
Fumbles-Lost: Tempe 4-0; Saguaro 2-0
Penalties-Yards: Tempe 12-82; Saguaro 14-123