TUCSON — As vocal as any coach on game nights, Roy Lopez found himself completely speechless.
The Marcos de Niza coach had no words to describe what his team just went through, a 40-7 blowout loss at Tucson Salpointe Catholic on Friday night that felt like it was 100-7.
“Wow,” Lopez whispered. “We worked our asses off, and to have that happen.”
The trip to Southern Arizona was expected to be a tough one for the Padres (4-1), regardless of whether quarterback Josh Eckley was going to be able to play. Eckley was hurt during Marcos' last game, and his absence would be a blow to one of the state's most potent offenses.
Eckley played against Salpointe, entering on the Padres' third series, but his lack of mobility was evident the first time he had a chance to scramble and instead stayed in the pocket. The host Lancers (5-0) picked up on that hesitancy right away and peeled their ears back.
“We knew we could go after him more because we didn't have to worry about the scramble,” said Salpointe linebacker Jake Casteel.
Casteel, son of University of Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, was the pilot of a defense that sacked Eckley and backup Marcos quarterback Jackson Loney six times. They also recovered two fumbles — one of which was returned for a touchdown — and intercepted a pass. The Lancers held a Padres' offense that entered the game averaging 53 points and 541 yards, to 134 yards and a meaningless fourth-quarter score.
“That's a really good defense, don't take anything away from them,” Lopez said of Salpointe, which has allowed 28 points in five games this season.
Salpointe's defense was so stellar it almost made you forget how potent the Lancers were with the ball. Almost.
Salpointe needed seven plays to score on the game's opening possession. After a Marcos three-and-out pinned the Lancers at their own 8, it was time for Salpointe's YouTube channel to get some footage.
Quarterback Andrew Cota dropped back into his end zone and effortlessly lofted a deep ball to University of Arizona-commit Cameron Denson, who was three yards behind the defense at midfield and raced away for a 92-yard TD and a 13-0 lead.
It stayed that way until Denson caught a short pass from Cota at the Marcos' 5, spun around and lateraled to Kaelin Deboskie for a hook-and-lateral score and a 20-0 lead. The advantage extended to 26-0 on the next play from scrimmage when Marcos' running back Jake Lagunas had the ball torn from his hands by Salpointe defensive end Brandt Davidson en route to a 32-yard fumble return for a TD.
Denson scored on a jump ball in the end zone late in the first half to make it 33-0, and Salpointe added another score on its first offensive snap in the second half, a 40-yard TD run by Jay Williams.
Marcos avoided by the infamy of having a running clock — two weeks after scoring 78 points against Sierra Vista Buena — and its first shutout loss since 2004 when Loney, Byron Murphy and Kylee Lawrence combined on a hook-and-ladder with Lawrence going the final 41 yards with 2:04 left in the game.
Salpointe Catholic 40, Marcos de Niza 7
First Downs: MDN 9, SAL 19
Rushing: MDN 37-89, SAL 35-227
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): MDN 10-20-45-0-1, SAL 14-19-234-2-1
Fumbles-lost: MDN 3-2, SAL 2-1
Penalties-yards: MDN 2-19, SAL 13-115
Marcos de Niza 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Salpointe 13 20 7 0 -- 40
SAL — Andrew Cota 3 run (kick failed)
SAL — Cameron Denson 92 pass from Cota (Alex Flores kick)
SAL — Kaelin Deboskie 5 run (Flores kick)
SAL — Brandt Davidson 32 fumble return (pass failed)
SAL — Denson 14 pass from Cota (Flores kick)
SAL — Jay Williams 40 run (Flores kick)
MDN — Kylee Lawrence 41 run (Colton Ketterer kick)