Salpointe Catholic 59, Flowing Wells 0: QB Cota back as Lancers rout Caballeros

Junior playmaker runs for touchdown on first carry since arm injury
2012-10-06T00:00:00Z Salpointe Catholic 59, Flowing Wells 0: QB Cota back as Lancers rout CaballerosAlex Williams Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 06, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Salpointe Catholic didn't waste its time at Flowing Wells on Friday.

Johnny Peña ran 14 yards for a touchdown on the game's fifth play, quarterback Andrew Cota scored on a 16-yard run on his first carry since returning from a broken forearm, Cameron Denson returned a punt 65 yards for a score and the Lancers rolled over the Caballeros 59-0.

Peña's 86 yards put him past 4,000 yards in his career and kicker Luke Bakewell became the school's all-time leader in career extra points made.

"Our kids played real well tonight," Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. "You can't put any of this on us as coaches. It's all the players."

Cota went 4 of 6 passing for 43 yards and a score in his first game action in five weeks while taking nine of Salpointe's 16 plays while starters were still in.

Denson started behind center and scampered 63 yards for a score on the game's third play, but it was called back because of a block in the back. But he later scored on a 59-yard run to give the Lancers a 28-0 lead in the first quarter, then added his punt return to make it 42-0 in the second quarter.

The two took turns at QB - Cota took several snaps at receiver while Denson was primarily out wide when he wasn't at QB - with Cota leading two of the Lancers' three first-half scoring drives.

Bene has long opposed running a two-quarterback system, but Cota's injury forced him to re-evaluate that system. Now with the junior nearing 100 percent, the Salpointe head coach will have to continue making tweaks to the Lancers' offense.

"It's new to everybody to have two great kids at one position," Bene said. "We still have to stay within the system. It's an evolution. Andy still has to get the rust off, but I thought he looked good in his first game action."

Bene added that Cota still needs to get into game shape as well as gain confidence taking hits - something he didn't do much of against Flowing Wells after coaches told him before the game to avoid taking big hits.

The Lancers ran only 13 plays in the first half, a number that Bene said skewed the percentage of snaps each quarterback played.

Salpointe practiced extensively using two quarterbacks with its first team, and Cota said that giving each player an entire series instead of rotating one in for a play or two helps the offense keep continuity despite the change.

"It feels good to stay in a rhythm," Cota said. "The tempo between me and Cam really doesn't change because we know all the hand signals and everything. But we've just got to communicate and talk to our line."

Denson said Cota's injury might have forced the coaching staff to find different ways to get the ball into the star's hands, which can make the Lancers even more dangerous with Cota at full strength.

Still, Denson said there are a number of small tweaks to be made that can make Salpointe's two-quarterback system as work as well as possible.

"Those little things," Denson said, "are what can get us to the goal of a state title."

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