GLENDALE — Physical, emotional games are what give high school football teams momentum in conference play.
That’s what the Desert Edge Scorpions hope to take from Friday’s 33-20 win at Ironwood. The win made the Scorpions 5-2 overall and, more importantly, 2-0 in 5A Desert West games, going into their bye week.
“I’m looking forward to the rest,” Desert Edge coach Marcus Carter said after Friday’s win. “Especially since our last three games will be super tough.”
The Scorpions will host Sunrise Mountain on Oct. 29 before facing Millenium and neighborhood rival Verrado to wrap up the regular season.
Ironwood (2-4, 0-1) must turn around and host Sunrise Mountain in a rare Thursday game on Oct. 21.
Friday’s game included many moments of frustration, with the deeper, more precise Scorpions eventually gaining the upper hand. Desert Edge senior quarterback Adryan Lara threw for more than 200 yards in the first half, as the Scorpions moved the ball almost at will, but couldn’t finish a few long drives.
The host Eagles got on the board on their first offensive play. After forcing Desert Edge to punt, Ironwood senior running back Elias Hernandez found some blocking on the right side and outran the defense for a 64-yard score.
All three of Lara’s touchdown passes in the game were to junior receiver Vinny Mansfield. The first was a 6-yard toss on a scramble to cap a 14-play drive in the first quarter to make it 7-7.
Desert Edge took its first lead after Marvlous Hannon grabbed the first of three interceptions thrown by Ironwood quarterback Connor Monahan. The ensuing 89-yard drive was capped by a long 40-yard throw over the middle from Lara to Mansfield.
Monahan had his moments, including taking advantage of two Desert Edge defensive miscues in the second quarter. Hunter Forsberg was wide open for a 64-yard scoring pass from Monahan on what appeared to be blown coverage, and Hernandez caught a pass, slipped by defenders and outran the secondary for a 58-yard score.
Ironwood led 20-14 at the half. Desert Edge twice had a pair of chances to score late in the second quarter, but an incomplete pass in the end zone on 4th-and-7 from the 13-yard-line and an interception near the goal line killed those drives.
In the third quarter, the Desert Edge defense started to pressure Monahan more, and the Scorpions’ offense settled into more of a rhythm.
“We really didn’t change what we did defensively,” Carter said. “We just started playing football.”
The Scorpions intercepted consecutive passes by Monahan in the third quarter. Using fewer rollouts and more reciever screens, Lara marched the Scorpions down the field after the second interception, with junior running back Chris Cordero breaking tackles for a 36-yard touchdown run up the middle.
The Scorpions were penalized 15 yards after Cordero ran out of the back of the end zone, off of the turf, and the entire offense joined him. Lara’s pass was incomplete on the long 18-yard, two-point conversion attempt.
Another 15 yards were assessed after one of the interceptions, with a Desert Edge player spinning the ball on the ground.
“We’ve been getting hammered on penalties,” offensive coordinator Mark Carter said. “Coach Marcus says that we don’t care about aggressive penalties. Earlier in the season, we might have let that get to us.”
Lara, a commit to Washington State, led the Scorpions down the field again, with Cordero’s help, finding Mansfield again for a 6-yard score.
In the fourth quarter, the Desert Edge offensive line wore the Eagles defense down. Cordero scored on a 12-yard run with 2:56 to play in the game.
Cordero earned praise from coaches for his effort, ending with 204 yards on 30 carries. The Scorpions dominated possession of the ball and had almost twice as many first downs as the Eagles.
Ironwood managed only four first downs in the second half. Monahan was 10-of-23 for 230 yards with the three picks, and his team only rushed for 99 yards.
The Scorpions were penalized 10 times for 115 yards, while the Eagles were flagged seven times for 60 yards. The two teams combined for seven unsportsmanlike conduct calls in the contest.
The Desert Edge coaches praised the offensive line, especially junior Brandon Thomas, who filled in for an injured teammate and made some crucial blocks.
Friday, Oct. 15
DESERT EDGE 33, IRONWOOD 20
Desert Edge 14 0 13 6—33
Ironwood 7 13 0 0—20
Scoring: I, 10:37 1Q, Elias Hernandez 64 run (Hunter Forsberg kick); DE, 4:26 1Q, Adryan Lara 6 pass to Vinny Mansfield (Eric Balderas kick); DE, 0:00 1Q, Lara 40 pass to Mansfield (Balderas kick); I, 8:43 2Q, Connor Monahan 64 pass to Forsberg (Forsberg kick); I, 2:13 2Q, Monahan 58 pass to Hernandez (kick wide right); DE, 6:43 3Q, Lara 6 pass to Mansfield (Balderas kick); DE, 1:27 3Q, Chris Cordero 36 run (pass failed); DE, 2:56 4Q, Cordero 12 run (kick wide left).
Unofficial team statistics
Rushes-Yds: DE 38-232; I 23-99. Passing: DE 24-39-1—340; I 10-23-3—231. Total off.: DE 572; I 330. 1st Downs: DE 27, I 14. Pen.-Yds.: DE 10-115; I 7-60. Fumbles-lost: DE 1-0; I 1-1. Punts-Avg.: DE 1-31.0; I 2-41.0. Rec.: DE 5-2, 2-0 5A Desert West; I 2-4, 0-1.
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