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MARICOPA — On the first drive of the game, Glendale Apollo quarterback Donte Gordon single-handedly carved up the Maricopa defense.

The Hawks marched down to the Rams’ 23-yard line when someone yelled on the sideline “we need to stop him.”

Maricopa did just that, as Apollo failed to get back into Rams territory until the second half in a 21-9 win.

“He was the key to their offense, and we knew that going in,” Maricopa coach Brandon Harris said. “They run that mid-line zone read and that’s what the team did last week.

“That’s what they gave us and they had some success early on, but we kind of turned the faucet off on that for a while and then they changed quarterbacks. It was good for us.”

Gordon couldn’t duplicate the success of that first series as Maricopa limited him to just 78 yards rushing on 10 carries and he threw for just 12 yards — completing 1 of 7 passes before being replaced in the second half by Brendan Penberthy.

“It was huge. It was a huge deal,” Harris said of shutting down the first series. “Our defense shouldered a lot of the load this year. I’m used to our offense scoring 30 points per game and it scored 14 in two games. That starts with me first and go from there. But we have to fix some things.”

The Rams got a jumpstart on offense from a defensive play when Patrick Garcia intercepted Gordon’s pass and ran it back 45 yards to give Maricopa a 7-2 lead at halftime.

Quarterback Daxton Redfern later found Merhauti Xepera for a 34-yard touchdown pass before Apollo closed out the third quarter when Penberthy had a 69-yard touchdown strike to Moe Harris in the closing seconds to cut the Rams’ lead to 14-9.

“Well we got the win,” Harris said. “We just don’t make it easy. We just don’t make it easy. The kids played hard. A lot of ironman football. We were down a couple of players, and we played with a makeshift line. We had three kids that had never played before.”

Mister Chavis gave Harris some breathing room with a 10-yard touchdown run that was set up by his 42-yard run.

“I think the second half we made some changes and got Mister loose a little bit and got him going finally,” Harris said. “It makes a difference when we run the ball.”

Chaves ended the night with 15 carries for 102 yards, while Redfern threw for 125 yards — completing 10 of 15 passes.

Maricopa (2-1) will host Phoenix South Mountain (1-2) next week.