Tempe stopped a fourth-quarter two-point attempt and a drive in the final minutes Friday night, holding on to defeat Division III opponent Poston Butte 28-27.
After a fourth-quarter touchdown brought Poston Butte (1-1) to within a point, the Broncos elected to go for two. Tempe (2-0) was up to the challenge, though, stopping running back Jason Compeon a half-yard short of the goal line.
Poston Butte intercepted a pass at midfield with just under two minutes remaining but couldn’t capitalize after being called for penalties on two consecutive plays.
Penalties plagued the Broncos all night, as they were called for 16 for a total of 142 yards.
“We just didn’t do a lot of things right,” said Poston Butte coach Mike De La Torre. “When you leave that many penalties on the field, at some point in time, you expect things not to go your way.”
A combination of a stiff pass defense and timely offense gave Tempe a 14-7 lead going into halftime. Poston Butte stalled after scoring quickly on its opening drive. Broncos QB Robert Herrera completed his first three passes of the night, all for 18 yards or more, but then went just 2 of 8 for 14 yards the rest of the way.
Running back Dante Romero was the standout for Poston Butte, rushing 25 times for 167 yards, with 141 of those yards coming in the second half when Poston Butte abandoned the passing game to focus on a continued rushing attack out of an single-back formation that Tempe had little answer for. Compeon, a senior, also played well, picking up two second-half touchdowns.
"When we went to kind of a balanced set, it gave us a chance to run both directions,” said De La Torre. “But all that is predicated on that you don’t have penalties.”
Tempe was carried offensively by quarterback Emanuel Gant, running back Raija Holt and wide receiver Massiah Smith. Gant, who sat out for several plays after taking a sideline hit at the end of the first half, completed 21 of his 34 pass attempts. He threw one touchdown but was intercepted three times in the second half, including both of his last two throws of the game. Holt scored three times, two rushing and one receiving. Smith, a junior, caught 13 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown and also intercepted a pass on defense.
Smith gave the credit for Tempe’s win to the defense.
"I give this win to my team, really,” said Smith. "We’re just humbled to be 2-0."
Tempe 28, Poston Butte 27
First Downs – 16
Carries/Yards – 31/138
Pass Yards – 218
Com/Att – 21/34
F/Lost – 0/0
Penalties/Yards – 8/55
First Downs – 16
Carries/Yards – 48/286
Pass Yards – 87
Com/Att – 5/11
F/Lost – 8/2
Penalties/Yards – 16/142
1 2 3 4 F
Tempe 7 7 14 0 28
Poston Butte 7 0 14 6 27
T: Raija Holt 18 pass from Gant (Victor Perez-Rodriguez kick)
PB: Robert Herrera 1 run (Kai Cambra kick)
T: Raija Holt 2 run (Victor Perez-Rodriguez kick)
T: Massiah Smith 13 pass from Gant (Victor Perez-Rodriguez kick)
PB: Dante Romero 4 run (PAT no good)
T: Raija Holt 27 run (Victor Perez-Rodriguez kick)
PB: Jason Compeon 7 run (Compeon 2-pt run)
PB: Jason Compeon 15 run (PAT no good)