SAN TAN VALLEY — Senior Kaleb Lewis delighted Florence fans with some big carries, including three touchdown runs, as the Gophers blanked San Tan Foothills 24-0 Friday night.
“He’s a heckuva ball player; he loves the game,” Florence coach Bill McKane said afterward about Lewis. “He’s a hard-fightin’ kid, I mean he’s tough. He’s a good athlete. He did a great job tonight and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all of them, actually.”
The win continues Florence’s unbeaten streak in the fourth annual Gila River Bowl, so-named for the first varsity football rivalry between two schools in Florence Unified School District.
“I think we played very well defensively,” McKane said. “I give a lot of credit to our defense, they’ve had back-to-back great games. Our offensive line blocked well, the running backs hit the holes, and hey, they just executed. We did well in the kicking game also.
“…Tonight we played a great ball game,” McKane said. “We still need to improve in some things, but we’re getting better. I’m just really pleased with the kids and what they’ve accomplished.”
Sabercats coach Michael Carlin agreed, “I think Florence played a pretty good football game, and we didn’t. We just have to go back to the drawing board and get better.”
Foothills received the opening kickoff, but turned the ball over on downs, 39 yards from Florence’s goal. After some big carries by Lewis and another carry by Josh Jackson, Lewis ran the last six yards for the night’s first score, less than halfway through the first quarter.
Florence’s good fortune continued when a snap got away from Foothills and Florence recovered the fumble just 23 yards from goal. Victor Aguirre ran the ball in, but the score was called back due to a holding penalty. The Gophers couldn’t make it any closer than the 13 yard line, and kicked a field goal early in the second quarter. The score remained 10-0 at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, a 22-yard carry by Josh Jackson brought the ball to the 8 yard line before Lewis ran in Florence’s second touchdown.
The Sabercats punted five times and the Gophers punted three times. In the fourth quarter, the Sabercats’ last punt was a bad one, giving the Gophers the ball 33 yards from goal.
Florence drove to the 2-yard line, thanks to carries by Lewis and others. The Sabercats were able to hold back Logan Stenson, but on the next play, Lewis found a path through for the touchdown.