CASA GRANDE — Casa Grande Union wanted to go for the knockout blow against Vista Grande, and it didn’t take long. The Cougars jumped to an early lead and cruised to a 63-7 win over the crosstown Spartans on Friday at Al Van Hazel Stadium.
For the second straight week, the Cougars scored more than 50 points.
Casa Grande (2-1) feasted off six Vista Grande (1-2) turnovers in the first half and led 49-7 at the break. Quarterback Angel Flores scored on an 11-yard run in the first minute of the game, and he later added three TD passes and another rushing score to finish with five total TDs.
Cougars running back RJ Keeton followed up a three touchdown performance last week with three more scores against the Spartans, rushing for 53 yards on nine carries. Beginning at the end of the first quarter and continuing into the second quarter, Keeton scored TDs on three consecutive carries, going for 3, 12 and 18 yards.
For a Casa Grande team that has aspirations of making a deep run in the 4A playoffs, it was the kind of strong performance that was needed, even if it wasn’t a flawless effort.
“We had moments where we looked sloppy, but they were far outnumbered by the good moments,” Cougars coach Jake Barro said. “We missed some blocks and tackles in the first quarter, but we didn’t put our heads down. We responded well and played really aggressive football.”
That aggression led to six takeaways, four of which were interceptions. Junior defensive back Kevin White picked off Vista Grande quarterback Donald Altaffer on consecutive throws in the second quarter, setting up touchdowns on the ensuing play both times.
Linebacker Jake Sylvestre and defensive back Justin Romo also grabbed interceptions.
If the two interceptions weren’t enough, White added to his big night with a 23-yard TD reception from Flores in the third quarter, giving Casa Grande a 56-7 lead.
“I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time,” White said of his two interceptions. “The second pick was (the most) exciting. My heart was pounding ... We knew what was expected of us. We got a bunch of turnovers and did what we had to do, assert our dominance.”
The only touchdown of the evening for Vista Grande came midway through the second quarter when Altaffer connected with receiver Tyrese Constable for 23 yards. That made it a 21-7 game, but Casa Grande responded immediately.
On the ensuing drive, Demetrius Garrett ran 48 yards down the sideline, which set up a 12-yard TD run by Keeton.
“Turnovers killed us,” Spartans coach Chris Semore said. “You can’t turn the ball over against those guys because they can score fast ... We gave them a short field, and you can’t do that against a good team like [Casa Grande].”
Altaffer completed 5 of 14 passes for 87 yards with four interceptions. His first throw of the game was a 54-yard completion to Constable, but almost nothing went right for him or the Spartans after that.
Flores was 8-of-11 for 190 yards with three TD passes. He rushed six times for 39 yards and two scores. The only blemish on his performance was a lost fumble in the first half.
Derrick Kuykendall had nine carries for 56 yards and a TD. Deandrey Kelley caught three passes for 63 yards and a score.
The longest play of the game came on a Flores screen pass to Garrett, who raced 82 yards to the house with a minute remaining in the second quarter.
Barro said his team did a good job on offense of attacking the Spartans through the air and on the ground.
“We definitely kept them off balance,” he said. “When they tried to take one thing away, we hit them with something else.”
Casa Grande hits the road next week to play Scottsdale Desert Mountain (3-0), and Vista Grande will host Phoenix North Canyon (1-2).
PinalCentral contributing writer Ed Petruska contributed to this story.