The first half was all Bonanza on Friday night, as the Bengals jumped to a 17-point lead.
But the second half belonged to Brandon Andrews and the Desert Oasis defense.
Andrews rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, and the Diamondbacks picked off four second-half passes en route to a 34-17 road win over the 10th-ranked Bengals. The loss was Bonanza’s first of the season.
“At halftime we got it pretty good in the locker room, so we came out and came back with heart, and we got it done,” Andrews said. “We’re a ground and pound team, so that’s what we did.”
Desert Oasis (2-2, 2-1 Southwest League) leaned heavily on Andrews after halftime. He carried the ball 24 times in the second half as the Diamondbacks focused on moving the ball on the ground.
Desert Oasis had run just 23 plays in the first half, and nine of those were pass attempts. But the Diamondbacks ran the ball 11 times on the second half’s opening drive, going 85 yards, capped by a 22-yard TD run by Andrews, who finished with 172 yards on 31 carries.
“It was huge to get that first one,” Desert Oasis coach Scott Staudinger said. “It was nice to have the ball coming out after half and be able to go down and score right away. We got a little momentum on our side.”
A couple of key plays after that gave the Diamondbacks the momentum for good. Jossaiah Raval picked off a Brett Doyle pass and returned it 54 yards for a score with 4:54 left in the third quarter, and Matt Howard’s extra point cut the Bonanza lead to 17-14.
Desert Oasis then went for an onside kick, and Jordan Polaski recovered it for the Diamondbacks at the Bonanza 48.
“Coming back with that onside kick right away was huge,” Staudinger said. “That was probably the turning point for us.”
Desert Oasis drove 48 yards on eight plays, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Herman Smith to Trevon Barnes that made it 21-17 with 50 seconds to go in the third quarter, and the Diamondbacks had the lead for good.
Desert Oasis intercepted Doyle three more times in the half and six times in the game. After allowing 164 yards of offense in the first half, the Diamondbacks limited the Bengals to 46 yards in the second half. Bonanza (4-1, 3-1) ran only 14 plays after halftime.
“It was all about heart on defense,” Staudinger said. “We made zero adjustments to what we were doing. It was just a matter of going at full speed. And they came out flying around in the second half.”
Mark Fredericks intercepted three Bonanza passes, and Barnes picked off two.
“They got us the ball back a lot, which let us come back in the second half and carry the win,” Andrews said of the defense.
The ground game didn’t hurt, as the Diamondbacks had three drives of four to seven minutes in the second half. Desert Oasis ran the ball on 33 of 37 second-half plays.
“Bonanza’s a good team,” Andrews said. “They’re going to be one of the contenders in our league for second place, so we couldn’t lose to them tonight.”