Notebook: Nighthawks force key turnovers

2012-11-25T00:00:00Z Notebook: Nighthawks force key turnoversDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

TEMPE - Peoria Centennial had six turnovers in its first game against Ironwood Ridge this season, a 28-24 loss.

The Coyotes didn't have as many in Saturday's Division II state championship, but they were just as costly.

Centennial committed three - nearly four - turnovers, and two resulted in touchdowns for Ironwood Ridge, which won its first state title 27-3.

The second turnover came with 51 seconds left in the third quarter, when Nighthawks senior linebacker Scott Simmons returned an interception 11 yards for a score.

On the final play of the first quarter, Ironwood Ridge's Cris Thorson knocked the ball loose from Keesean Green on a 14-yard catch at the Nighthawks' 3, but the head official called the fumble off, saying that forward progress had been stopped. The Coyotes, however, had to settle for a field goal to go up 3-0.

Centennial turned the ball over less than two minutes after that.

Xavier Villanueva muffed a punt return on his own 25, and Clay Allen recovered for I-Ridge. Three plays after that, senior quarterback Tyler Williams hit John Klass for a 24-yard TD pass to give the Nighthawks a 7-3 lead.

Centennial also finished with 11 penalties for 80 yards. Ironwood Ridge only had four for 40.

Big game for Klass

Klass, a senior, was key for the Nighthawks on both sides of the ball.

Not only did he get Ironwood Ridge on the board with a touchdown catch in the second quarter, he led the team in tackles with 10, including a tackle-for-loss.

Klass also broke up what would have been a fourth-quarter TD pass moments after I-Ridge went up 20-3.

He came into the game as the Nighthawks' No. 2 man in total tackles with 58 behind Jake Matthews' 86.

Klass also tied a season-high with three catches and finished with a team-high 42 yards receiving.

Ortiz gets stalled

Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson knew his team had to control UCLA commit Jalen Ortiz, who rushed for 228 yards against Salpointe Catholic in the state semifinals.

Johnson's defense did just that, holding Centennial's Ortiz to 62 yards on 10 carries with no touchdowns. Ortiz also had nine catches for 47 yards.

I-Ridge finds a way

The Nighthawks were behind in every stat category at the end of the first half, but they still led 7-3.

The Coyotes outgained the Nighthawks 186-61, thanks to 133 passing yards from QB Tre'von Grant, and ran 38 plays compared to Ironwood Ridge's 17.

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