Sonoraville looked like they were headed for an easy victory after racking up a three-touchdown lead at the half on Friday in their season opener against Model. But the Devils refused to go away quietly, forcing the Phoenix defense to make some crucial plays at the end to secure a 21-14 home victory.
Model’s offense got on track in the second half and scored a touchdown apiece in the third and fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 21-14, and they had one more chance with the ball with less than five minutes to play. But it was the Phoenix defense that rose to the occasion to shut the door. Junior linebacker Colton Richards came up with a sack on second down, defensive back Blade Bryant made a huge pass break-up deep down the field on third down and then Richard came up with another sack on fourth down to seal the game.
Richard was one of the key players all night for Sonoraville (1-0) on both sides of the ball as he came up with several big tackles, multiple sacks and also recovered a Model fumble early in the third quarter. On offense, he accounted for three catches from his H-back position for 43 yards.
Sonoraville jumped on top late in the first quarter after both teams traded possession a few times. After a long, clock-churning drive, the Phoenix went up 7-0 on a Case Collins 10-yard touchdown run. Collins repeated that twice in the second quarter as he scored on a six-yard run in early in the quarter and then added his third TD run of the night on a one-yard plunge with 5:47 left in the first half.
Collins was Sonoraville’s leading rusher on the night with 71 yards on 24 carries with his three touchdowns. The Phoenix offense was balanced out in the passing game as sophomore Cole Godfrey had a good night in his first career varsity start, throwing for 177 yards on 13-of-20 passing. Kicker Tripp Morrison was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points.
The Phoenix had one last chance before the half to add to their lead, but a long field goal attempt was partially blocked and fell short of the goal posts.
Model (0-2) seemed to come to life after the halftime break as they started to move the ball with their rush-heavy offense and do some damage against the Phoenix defense. The Devils dented the scoreboard first midway through the third quarter with Kwalic Dublin breaking free for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7.
After the Devils’ defense stood strong to force a punt by Sonoraville, the Model offense once again punctuated a drive with a 14-yard touchown run by Luke Holtzendorf to make it 21-14 with 9:05 to play in the game. Matthew Syverson made both extra points for Model.
Sonoraville’s Trevor Easley came up with a fumble recovery for his team late in the third quarter, which was one of three for the Phoenix on the night.
Godfrey spread out the wealth in the passing game for Sonoraville, completing passes to five different receivers. Along with Richards’ solid night, Wes McCormick led the receiving stats with five catches for 47 yards. Ben Burns added three catches for 61 yards.
This was the second straight season-opening win for Sonoraville, and it gives them a one-game edge in the all-time series against Model at 7-6.
The Phoenix will be on the road next Friday as they look to keep the early-season momentum going when they travel to Darlington for another non-region test at 7:30 p.m.