Friday’s first quarter between Marana and Canyon del Oro was close. For a while, the football matchup had all the looks of a old-fashioned slugfest.
Then Marana made it a one-sided fight.
The Tigers scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter, one coming on a Hail Mary pass, and went on to win 55-20 over host CDO. Since opening its season with back-to-back losses to Ironwood Ridge and Cienega, Marana has won three straight.
“We had two tough ones in the beginning, and I think that really battle-tested us,” Marana coach Andy Litten said.
“We did a good job of sticking to the game plan and having faith. We got a couple guys healthy over our bye week and this is a great team that we were able to play against.”
Marana (3-2) opened the scoring with seven minutes left in the first half, when senior wide receiver Teon Simmons hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trenton Bourguet.
The Tigers then picked off CDO (3-2) on the ensuing possession and scored on a 10-yard touchdown connection from Bourguet to senior wide receiver Jesus Valenzuela. Just like that, it was 14-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Dorados on the next possession, as Marana again picked off a pass attempt. Bourguet then threw a 25-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Tariq Jordan on the next play to take a 21-0 lead with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the half.
The budding rivalry then got even more heated.
The two teams had to be separated and were handed offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties just before halftime. Referees spent nearly 20 minutes trying to sort out the various infractions.
CDO finally got on the board on a 22-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone with three seconds left in the half. Players and fans alike celebrated the points and looked to be re-energized heading into the halftime break.
The Dorados elected to squib the ensuing kickoff and gave Marana possession on its own 44-yard line with 0.9 seconds in the half.
Litten called for a Hail Mary, then watched as Bourguet heaved a 56-yard touchdown bomb to Simmons as time expired.
“I thought our kids played with poise and tenacity,” Litten said. “When they pushed us, I thought we pushed back at the right times and we did that right before the end of the (first) half.”
The second half was much of the same, with Marana adding 27 more points to an already commanding lead and keeping the Dorados at bay.
After the game, Litten said if his team executes and plays up to its potential, it can contend with anybody going forward.
“Our kids really know that if we run our system, we can do this with really anybody, and we believe that,” Litten said. “We do a couple things here and there and we win our first two games.
“We know that we’re pretty good and… our kids are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”