QUEEN CREEK — Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin held visiting Combs to just one touchdown in each half to roll to a 31-14 win Friday at the teams’ first-ever meeting on the gridiron.

The Chargers only led by a field goal, 10-7, at the half, but put the game out of the Coyotes’ reach in a big fourth quarter.

Benjamin Franklin coach Dave Jefferies said there was no particular weakness the Chargers found to exploit.

“No, we were just doing our thing,” Jefferies said. “Honestly, I was just trying to chew clock and we were able to break free on a couple of our runs.

“… I’m just proud of our kids, we played really hard and stepped up to the challenge. We were a little bit outsized and outmanned. Combs is a really good football program. … I asked the kids to just put it all out there and see what happens, and I’m glad we came away with the win.”

Dawson Smith scored three of the Chargers’ touchdowns and Mason Grant scored one.

Hunter Clare scored both of Combs’ touchdowns. Coyotes coach Travis Miller said it wasn’t the Chargers’ famous “Double Wing T” offense that was their undoing as much as their own mistakes.

“We can’t win when we beat ourselves with turnovers,” Miller said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. We fumbled the ball a couple of times and had some issues with the snap. … You can’t win when you do that.”

Combs received the opening kickoff, but turned the ball over on the first play and the Chargers got the ball 33 yards from goal.

A couple of plays later and a personal foul on Combs, and Benjamin Franklin was 14 yards from the end zone. A couple of plays later and Smith wound his way through the last nine yards for the first points of the night.

Combs responded early in the second quarter when a 26-yard catch by Tanner Price set up their first score. A couple of plays later, Clare took the handoff and scrambled 14 yards to put the Coyotes on the board.

Combs was in the game until the fourth quarter. The third quarter ended with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Combs, which moved the Chargers up to 13 yards from goal. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Smith ran it in. Four minutes later, Smith had another rushing touchdown.

Combs quarterback Tanner Hale passed more late in the game, which paid off when he connected with Clare for a 60-yard score, bringing Combs within 10 points of the hosts midway through the fourth quarter.

But the Chargers’ Grant scored the last touchdown of the night after teammate Garrett Jones broke loose for a 43-yard run that brought the ball to 15 yards from goal.


Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.