TUCSON — In the final minutes of the fourth quarter and with the score well in favor of Tucson Salpointe Catholic, Casa Grande Union quietly put together a 16-play, 64-yard drive.
It was a drive that symbolized the Cougars on Friday night — down 59-14 and having a never-quit attitude that didn’t go unnoticed by long-time Lancer coach Dennis Bene, who complimented Casa Grande coach Jake Barro at midfield following a 59-21 loss by the Cougars.
“We didn’t quit,” Barro said. “We played hard. I got a very complimentary thanks from the opposing staff there. They are a really good football team and that happens.”
RJ Keeton would cap off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that without Lancer standout Bijan Robinson, would have resulted in a Cougars’ victory. Instead the loss drops CG Union to 4-3 and 1-1 in the 4A Kino region.
“We didn’t quit and we played very hard and that’s a positive,” Barro said.
Robinson was responsible for 42 of the Lancers’ 59 points, ending the night with six touchdowns. He got Salpointe Catholic on the board with 11:24 left in the first quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run and later added touchdowns from 1, 33, 25, 43 and 51 yards.
The nations’ No. 1 running back according to Rivals.com and the future Texas Longhorn ended the night with 16 carries for 347 yards.
“He’s a stud and there is nothing but respect for him and that team,” Barro said of Robinson. “They are a great bunch of guys.”
DJ Johnson would put the Cougars on the board just before halftime with a 1-yard run before Salpointe Catholic’s Braden Rosen nailed a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Lancers a 38-7 halftime lead.
Johnson would end the night with 16 carries for 45 yards, while Keeton had 20 yards on five carries.
CG Union sophomore quarterback Angel Flores threw for 152 yards — completing 13 of 22 passes including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Penn that cut Salpointe Catholic’s lead to 45-14.
“We are still getting better,” Barro said of his team despite the final score to the team that’s top-ranked in 4A and No. 2 in the open division rankings. “The biggest thing is we had some guys banged up. It’s going to be the severity of those injures and we won’t know until Monday. If we can stay healthy, then we can be OK. We just have to find out where we are at.”
Casa Grande Union will host Tucson Catalina Foothills next week before hitting the road against Tucson Sahuaro. The Cougars will close out the regular season at home against Oro Valley Canyon del Oro.
“It’s a game you have to win,” Barro said of next week’s matchup with Catalina Foothills. “They are all like that from here on out. Especially (Catalina Foothills).”