Yuma Catholic displayed the resolve that has made it a Division V contender and a state champion in recent years in its clash Friday niight against the top team in the D-V power rankings -- Arizona Lutheran.
Yuma Catholic rallied from behind twice and used strong second half to outscore Arizona Lutheran, 52-38,and hand the Coyotes their first loss of the season at Arizona Lutheran High School.
A big night from junior back Carter Rodriguez and the defensive effort of his Yuma Catholic teammates after intermssion paved the way. Rodriguez scored three touchdowns (2 rushing and 1 receiving). He caught 14 passes for 235 yards and rushed for 55 yards.
Yuma Catholic (5-1), fifth in the D-V power-rankings coming in, was outstanding on defense in the third period. The Shamrocks forced two three-and-outs to begin the third and picked off Arizona Lutheran quarterback Cameron Haag twice in the period. The first pick by Treyshon Malone set up one of Yuma Catholic's three third-quarter TDs. A 21-0 edge in the period allowed the Shamrocks to overcome a 30-23 halftime deficit.
The biggest defensive play came with just less than two minutes left. ALA had a third and 10 at its 26 when Haag was hit and the ball knocked loose by YC lineman Marco Pericone. Teammate and tackle Alanzo Mendez recovered at the ALA 12. YC scored two plays later with 1:18 to go on Rodriguez's final TD to account for the final points of the night and close out ALA (6-1).
"We didn't do a whole lot different in the second half," Yuma Catholic coach Rhett Stallworth said. "We got better fundamentally. We showed we're a contender, and we have kids who persevere. They showed that coming from behind twice."
Receiver defensive back Ricky Hampton took a five-yard pass from quarterback Jagan Cleary and turned it into a 63-yard TD to open the second half and tie the game a 30. Running back Seth McKinney put YC ahead to stay (37-30), capping a 57-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run. After Malone's pick of Haag, Rodriguez ran a fly pattern down the right sideline and Cleary hit him in stride for a 56-yard TD and a 44-30 advantage. Cleary had solid game, completing 24 of 34 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns. He was not intercepted.
As good as Yuma Catholic's third quarter was, the Shamrocks weren't home free yet. ALA marched 50 yards and took 5 1/2 minutes off the clock to score and pull within 44-38 with 5:36 to play. ALA's monster wide out/tight end -- 6-foot-5 Brady Cook -- grabbed a 8-yard pass from Haag to put ALA close again. Cook caught eight passes for 186 yards and a TD in the first half. He was limited to three catches for 33 yards in the second half to finish with 11 receptions for 219 yards (two TDs). YC decided to jam Cook most of the latter portion of the game and it seemed to slow Cook, who made a number of exceptional catches even with coverage as good as it could be.
"We had to do something different," Stallworth said. "He made so many acrobatic, amazing catches."
Haag was 17 of 44 for 349 yards and four TDs. After hitting 11 of 19 in the first half for 254 yards, Haag was just 6-of-25 for 95 yards in the second half.