SAN TAN VALLEY — San Tan Foothills and Florence essentially matched each other in the first half Friday, with three touchdowns each by their star running backs, Foothills’ Amahri Bailey and Florence’s Josh Maignan.
The Sabercats’ (2-6, 1-2 in 3A Central) homecoming crowd took heart in a slim 20-19 halftime lead. But Florence (2-6, 1-2 in 3A Central) took the lead and kept it in the second half to earn a 32-27 victory.
“On offense, we just needed to finish on blocks, which we did,” Florence coach Scott Howard said. “We did a better job in the second half with that. Then our defense tweaked some stuff, and we got to shut ’em down a little bit.”
Maignan scored all five of the Gophers’ touchdowns. His last was in the third quarter, when after two plays with no gain just five yards from goal, he stepped in as quarterback to take the snap and finally run it in.
“Just a little wildcat that we have, and he did a good job with it,” Howard said.
The Sabercats’ last touchdown occurred in the fourth quarter, when 6-foot, 300-pound tackle Lorenzo Cruz rushed 45 yards to the 3-yard line, then made the score on the next play.
“I just ran through some people,” Cruz said of the touchdown. Just as he broke the goal line, the ball was nearly knocked out of his arms, but “I was lucky enough to get the score; our O-line did a great job,” the four-year varsity player said.
Cruz also had a 16-yard carry in the second quarter that put the ball on the 10-yard line and set up the Sabercats’ third touchdown.
The Sabercats were on the board first with a 16-yard scoring run by Bailey. The lead wouldn’t last long, with the visitors scoring twice before the quarter was over.
Bailey started the second quarter with a 57-yard carry. After quarterback Brett Lincoln and Bailey each ran for first downs, Bailey danced the last couple of yards over the goal line. Maignan responded less than 2½ minutes later with a 33-yard scoring run. Maignan scored on a 64-yard carry a minute into the third quarter.