On a memorable debut for sophomore quarterback Cameron Hackworth, Sabino showed nothing can slow down its high-powered offense.
Except, maybe its own mistakes.
As Hackworth completed 18 of 23 passes for 245 yards with three touchdowns, Sabino also racked up 20 penalties for 170 yards in the 41-7 victory Friday at Catalina Foothills. The offensive might was enough to clear every hurdle the Sabercats (2-0) put in their own way.
“You have just got to get through it,” running back Kenneth Blackman said. “You can’t let penalties get you down. It’s almost like a bad drop or something you shouldn’t have done. You just have to fight through that adversity.”
Blackman played his part, making key plays on both sides of the ball. He finished with 65 rushing yards on eight carries and tallied two scores, including a 5-yard touchdown one minute before halftime.
That score was where the Sabercats took control. It came after a momentum-swinging fourth-down stop on their own 23-yard line.
For a brief moment, even after Catalina Foothills running back Samuel Delgado was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, it seemed like the Falcons might get the crucial conversion, regardless, with yet another flag on the field. But the officials ruled an Sabino unsportsmanlike conduct penalty occurred after the play. That meant Sabino ball, just with the Sabercats backed up.
It didn’t matter. Sabino marched 89 yards in 2:58 to score and go up 14-0.
Senior wide receiver Isiah Aguirre, who missed all of last season with a broken collarbone, emerged as Hackworth’s favorite target. He hauled in nine catches for 143 yards with two touchdowns, including a 44-yard score with 4:29 left in the third quarter to put Sabino up 28-0.
“I’m just super proud of our guys battling and overcoming it, not letting it get to them,” coach Collin McBrayer said “They just kept driving down the field.”
Foothills broke the shutout with seconds to spare, as quarterback Connor Smith scampered away from a pass rush and raced to the end zone from 15 yards out. The Falcons leaned heavily on the run with running back Yasuo Bean running for 107 yards on 19 carries.
However, Sabino made sure to end things on its own terms, as Derek Sanchez scooped up an onside kick attempt and sprinted into the end zone with 0:00 on the scoreboard for the final score.