Foothill senior defensive lineman Anthony McCallister was still huffing and puffing several minutes after his team’s 15-14 road victory over Palo Verde under the Thursday night lights.
After all, anchoring a dominant defensive effort can be pretty exhausting.
The Falcons settled in to stifle the Panthers’ run-heavy, double-wing offense after surrendering an opening-drive touchdown, and improved to 2-0 as they enter their bye week.
Foothill sophomore quarterback Koy Riggin shook off three interceptions to throw the go-ahead touchdown pass with 58 seconds left in the third quarter, and McCallister’s defensive unit stymied a couple promising Palo Verde drives in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Falcons players sprinted toward midfield almost immediately after the game, and cheered in unison as they pawed at the celebratory Thursday night lights trophy in front of the television cameras.
“We really (asserted our will),” McCallister said. “We had to get in a rhythm. We had to get our defense hyped up.”
Foothill coach Martin Redmond said he was proud of his defense’s ability to adjust, especially after the opening drive.
Panthers running back Chamere Thomas sprinted 26 yards down the right sideline on the first play from scrimmage, and concluded the opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. But Palo Verde’s offense sputtered for the remainder of the half, and Foothill turned to wildcat quarterback Jordan Wilson in wake of Riggin’s slow start.
Wilson and Riggin combined to lead a 18-play drive late in the second quarter that Wilson punctuated with a 1-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds left in the first half.
“We had to have another option running the ball, having our tailback block as well,” Redmond said. “Putting (Wilson) in there gives us an extra blocker. He was able to get us a few yards, and they changed their defense a little bit. We were able to go back and throw it, mix it up and little bit and changed formations.”
Riggin found a rhythm in the third quarter in spite of a violent, blustery wind and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Oliva about three minutes after Thomas’ second touchdown run.
Palo Verde (1-1) had a couple of opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but was denied on multiple fourth downs.
Thomas finished with 25 carries for 112 yards and the two scores. Wilson, who starts at receiver, caught four passes for 28 yards and added 27 rushing yards, and fellow Falcons wideout Jordan Blakely tallied 84 yards from scrimmage.
Wilson said the Falcons relished the opportunity to play on television, and Redmond was thrilled with the outcome.
“We didn’t feel like we played very well tonight and we got out healthy, for the most part,” Redmond said. “We feel like this can really get the ball rolling for us … This is going to really help our program in the future.”