Stout defense propels Foothill past unbeaten Green Valley

Foothill senior linebacker Chloe Collins isn’t used to catching passes below her knees.

Doesn’t mean she can’t do it.

Collins jumped an under-thrown hitch route, intercepted Green Valley quarterback Carolynn Fedarko and sprinted 38 yards to the end zone in the Falcons’ 18-0 home victory over the previously unbeaten Gators on Wednesday evening.

Foothill quarterback Madisyn McArthur threw for 143 yards and two touchdown passes, but Falcons coach John Hopkins saved his praise for the defense, which recorded three sacks, two pivotal goal-line stands and two interceptions.

“The interception set a big tone. We had a big stop and then a pick-six, it really could been a much closer game,” Hopkins said. “If we don’t stop those things, it’s 18-12, 18-18.”

Collins said Foothill (5-2) was motivated by Green Valley’s unblemished record and the natural rivalry that accompanies the two Henderson-area schools.

Her interception-return touchdown gave the Falcons a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter and helped trigger the shutout.

“When I caught the ball, I was first amazed, because that was a low ball and I always catch high balls,” Collins said. “I felt really exhilarated right there. It felt really amazing.”

The Gators (11-1) picked up their fair share of first downs, thanks in large part to Izzy Madrid’s eight receptions and 78 receiving yards. But Foothill’s defense stiffened in the red zone, and Green Valley’s drives stalled near the goal-line.

McArthur threw the first of her two touchdown passes to Julia Lynch midway through the second quarter and completed a 75-yard touchdown strike to Whitley Brow early in the third quarter.

Hopkins said the long-scoring play galvanized the Falcons, who wanted to bounce back after losing to Palo Verde in their previous outing.

“They were just really pumped (after the touchdown to Brow),” Hopkins said. “They were 11-0. We thought we were probably better this team and we wanted to show it.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.