ELOY — Back-to-back rivalry games seemed to be too much for Coolidge to handle, but then again Santa Cruz Valley’s run game is nearly impossible to slow down.
The Dust Devils stuck to their usual game plan, as Hunter Ogle did what he does best and ran through the Bears, leading Santa Cruz to a 42-18 victory Friday.
Coolidge coach Rodger Schenks said earlier this week that he wanted his team to match Santa Cruz's intensity, but he was disappointed by what he saw from his team.
“By no means (did we match them), not at all,” Schenks said. “A lot of mistakes. The best way to say it is our superstars didn’t show up, they didn’t match the intensity that we need to, and it showed this week in practice with some of our kids. What they did in practice, they played just like that in the game, but we’ll fix that Monday morning.”
It didn’t take long for the Dust Devils to take an early lead, as Steve Calvin capped off the first drive of the game with a 50-yard touchdown run.
After exchanging punts, the Bears were near midfield as quarterback Jacob Gunter tossed the ball to running back Greg Rodriguez, who fumbled it, which was recovered by Mauricio Lopez of Santa Cruz.
It was a quick four and out for the Dust Devils, but then there was a near déjà vu moment, as the Bears fumbled the ball again and Santa Cruz recovered. Yet the Dust Devils still couldn’t make it into the end zone and turned the ball over on downs.
Coolidge started its drive with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter deep in its own territory, following a short run by Gunter, he fumbled the ball for a third time and again Santa Cruz recovered it.
"They’re just experienced,” Santa Cruz coach Rishard Davis said about his team’s defense. “They played in a bunch of big games against some pretty good teams in the past, so I don’t think they’re afraid of the moment now. They understand we all have an individual job on the team, and I’m pleased in what I’m seeing, especially defending the run."
The third time was the charm for the Dust Devils, as they were within 15 yards from the end zone as the drive ended on a 9-yard Ogle touchdown run.
The Bears began to make a comeback in the second quarter after trailing 14-0 following a 36-yard reception by Jose Ruiz from Gunter to end the first quarter.
Gunter capped of the scoring drive with a 12-yard pass to Tad Lynch to make it a 14-6 game as the extra-point kick was no good.
There was a brief switch of momentum as Santa Cruz fumbled the ball and Coolidge recovered, a pass interference call against the Dust Devils brought Coolidge into their territory and Gunter ran for 14 yards.
The senior quarterback then connected with Ruiz for a 31-yard touchdown as the clock ran out in the half to make it 14-12.
“(I told them) just keep playing hard and do what we need to do,” Schenks said. “We were right there, but guys were being undisciplined and not playing assignment football. Turnovers, that’s tough especially in high school, and we can’t do that against a very good football team.”
Just when it seemed like the Bears had found their groove, they open the second half with another fumble on their second run attempt.
“I felt like we were hurting ourselves,” Davis said. “Guys were trying to do too much or we were just relying on the referees to make a call for us instead of us making plays. I think just going into halftime we wanted to tell the guys that we’re not hurt, we’re the ones hurting ourselves, they’re not really exposing anything that we’re doing.”
Santa Cruz recovered the ball, and it only took one play for Ogle to score on a 40-yard run. Ogle added two more touchdowns in the quarter, including an 84-yard run.
“I liked how we didn’t put our head down,” Davis said. “We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, and I felt like we really could have put the game away in the first half. I’m just proud of how they fought. Coolidge didn’t really lay down, we just tried to tell them to stay patient, eventually we were able to bust some long runs.”
The Dust Devils’ final score of the night came on a 31-yard run by Ricardo Alaniz.
The Bears ended the game on a high note, as Gunter connected with Lynch for 43 yards and then found Connor Ferguson for a 10-yard touchdown reception.
Hunter Ogle finished the night with four touchdowns and 248 yards rushing on 21 carries. Calvin had one touchdown for 68 yards on five carries and had one reception for 30 yards.
Alaniz added over 100 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown.
For the Bears, Rodriguez has 25 rushing yards on nine carries.
Gunter went 12 of 25 for 207 yards passing with three touchdowns, and Lynch caught four passes for 70 yards.