When your offense averages nearly 50 points a game, your team's record is 8-1, and your quarterback amasses the most passing yards in Southern Arizona, it's easy to forget about the defense.
In Pusch Ridge's 56-7 first round playoff win over Morenci, the defense took center stage.
After a season-opening loss, the Lions defense has allowed less than seven points a game in their eight wins. That defensive effort continued into their first playoff game, as they held Morenci to one touchdown, 197 yards of offense, forced five fumbles, and scored nine points on defense.
Ryan Tanner fell on a fumble in the end zone to give Pusch Ridge a 44-7 lead with under three minutes left in the first half. The defense also came up with the opening score of the second half when defensive lineman Ryan Polston sacked Morenci's quarterback Nunu Lopez in the end zone for a safety.
But the greatest defensive play of the game was probably turned in by John Jackson in the second quarter. On a run by Lopez, Jackson came up to meet him, then wrestled the ball out of his hands for a fumble recovery, giving the Lions the ball at the Morenci 32-yard line.
The defensive star was Polston, who recorded four sacks.
"He (Polston) was a beast," said quarterback Greg Schimke.
Morenci scored the game's first touchdown on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Lopez to Rey Holguin for an early 7-0 lead.
"Morenci came out with fire," Polston said. "We had to tell our guys to focus."
A 23-yard run by Tyler Vance and a 15-yard scamper by Schimke set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Schimke to Mitch Woody, after Schimke had rolled to his left.
The Lions scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the first half in building a 34-7 lead. Brett Overstreet ran six yards for a score, and Schimke connected with Tyler Kaveloh on a 6-yard strike in the second to make it 21-7.
"We knew they were a decent team," Schimke said. "Ever since the first game, we expect to get (at least) 40 points."
Offensively, Schimke completed 13 out of 24 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 52 yards.
Overstreet gained 57 yards rushing on 12 carries, and also caught three passes for 25 yards. Trever Cook caught four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns, while Tyler Vance had three catches for 59. Despite being roughed up early, kicker Chad Springetti drilled two field goals, a 35-yarder and a 41-yarder. He also converted on all his extra point kicks.
"It feels great (to win)," Polston said. "The way that it should be."
The No. 4 Lions host No. 5 Yuma Catholic on Friday. In spite of the team's 8-1 regular-season record, coach Bob Vance wasn't overconfident against a young Morenci team.
"You never know how they're going to respond for sure," Vance said. "We have a lot of seniors, but some guys hadn't played football before this year."
Yuma Catholic is "good," Vance said. "They've been there before. It will be a good one.
"This team's never been past the second round before. We're trying to change that."