After Shadow Ridge returned a pair of first-quarter kickoffs for touchdowns to tie Friday’s game with Green Valley, it appeared the host Gators were in for a shootout with the Mustangs.
Instead, No. 9 Green Valley delivered an offensive onslaught behind senior quarterback Christian Lopez, scoring 40 straight points to turn the shootout into a rout, and rolling to a 53-21 victory.
Lopez, who completed 10-of-17 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 93 yards and a score, said it was good to have his team’s offense finally playing so well.
“We just really wanted to execute on offense,” said Lopez, who helped direct his team to 582 yards of total offense. “We haven’t really done that the last two weeks. So all we focused on in practice this week was just getting better.
“This was huge. The offensive side of the ball is getting better, and our receivers are really growing up. I think we are headed on the right path.”
Green Valley (2-1) needed to start fast on offense after De-Zhon Rogers opened the game with a 74-yard kickoff return for a TD for Shadow Ridge (0-2) – his third return for a score this season.
Albert Lake answered for the Gators, however, racing 90-yards for a score on the ensuing kickoff.
After the teams exchanged interceptions, Lopez connected with Albert Lake for a 30-yard TD pass to give Green Valley it’s first lead, 14-7.
But Dexter Kie followed that up by scooping up Rogers’ fumble on the ensuing kickoff and racing 66 yards for a Mustang score to knot it up at 14-14.
The Gators responded again and took the lead for good on the next drive. Lake capped the drive by racing 23-yards for the score, with his dive over the goal line giving Green Valley 20-14 advantage.
“I knew we had to bounce right back,” said Lake, who led the Gators with 134 rushing yards on 12 carries. “They hit us in the mouth, so I knew we had to hit them right back.”
Green Valley then recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Lopez galloped 30 yards for a score on the next play to make it 27-14 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
The Gators tacked on 20 more points in the second quarter on Brenan Adams’ 5 yard TD run and touchdown passes from Lopez to Brayon Williams (8 yards) and Isaiah Macklin (52 yards) to seize control, 47-14.
Macklin, who led Green Valley with 103 receiving yards, said he was happy with how the team responded in big moments.
“Our coaches have us practice on clutch moments like that, so we don’t worry about that,” said Macklin. “But this (game) was very important. It was the difference in starting the year 1-2 or 2-1.”
And after the Gators lost their previous game by giving up a score by Palo Verde in the last minute, Lake said this victory also was pivotal for Green Valley’s season as a whole.
“I think this showed our character,” said Lake. “After you get knocked down, do you get back up? We did. And it was good for our team’s confidence, especially our younger guys. It was a good win.”
“We just can’t come out flat,” he said. “Last week we came out flat. We just thought we were going to win – and we should have won. Now we just have to continue to come out and play every game like it’s our last.”