Sometimes, football comes down to which team takes advantage of opportunities better.
In Friday night’s Class 4A Southwest League game, that team proved to be Spring Valley.
Kevin Benoza ran for 142 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries to lead the Grizzlies to a 24-21 road win over rival Bonanza.
Bonanza had a chance in the fourth quarter, but Spring Valley linebacker Clark Genneken recovered a fumble at the Grizzlies 23-yard line with 2:20 left in the game. Two plays later, Benoza reeled off a 47-yard run to give Spring Valley (3-3, 1-2 Southwest League) the first down it needed to run out the clock.
The two teams entered the contest looking for a win in a rivalry contest after both spent their previous two games getting pounded by Bishop Gorman and Sierra Vista. With those two teams and Durango looking strong early, both teams are competing for the fourth playoff spot in the Southwest League with Clark and Desert Oasis.
Thanks to Benoza, and a defense that held Bonanza (1-6, 0-4 Southwest League) scoreless in the second half, the Grizzlies now have a chance.
“Our defense came up big as we managed to hold them a few times,” Grizzlies coach Marcus Teal said. “This was a big win. It is a rivalry game, but it also helps us in our chance for the playoffs.”
The Bengals missed a couple of chances to score which came back to haunt them. In the first half, Bonanza had a first-and-goal opportunity at the Grizzlies’ 2, but penalties pushed the ball back and the result was a missed field goal from 34 yards out. In the second half, Bonanza twice drove the ball into Grizzlies territory before turning the ball over on downs.
“We got a young team and this has been our season,” Bengals coach Dion Lee said. “We will play a good half, but can’t keep it up. We had chances to score, but we couldn’t take advantage of those chances.”
Spring Valley jumped out to a 14-0 lead within the game’s first five minutes after Sylo Slaton threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marquelle Diggs and Joseph Pienta returned a block punt seven yards for a touchdown.
But the Bengals quickly got back into the game when Kyle Allison hit Josh Wilson on a slant pass that turned into a 73-yard touchdown. The pair later connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass on a fade route into the end zone, tying the game at 14-14 midway through the second quarter.
Allison eventually left the game after taking a shot to the ribs. However, John Frazier moved over from receiver to quarterback and led a two-minute drive which ended on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Terrence McCullough with 31 seconds left in the second quarter to give Bonanza a 21-17 halftime lead.
Frazier led Bonanza with 64 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Benoza’s 5-yard touchdown run with 1:23 left in the third quarter proved to be the game-winner for Spring Valley.
“He has been huge for us this season,” Teal said. “He started out well, but we haven’t gotten him going the last couple of games. However, he came through for us tonight.”