Without the services of Ka'Deem Carey, Canyon Del Oro turned to the feet of quarterback Jason McBrayer in beating Queen Creek 24-7 last Thursday night.
McBrayer ran 22 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns to lead the 4-0 Dorados.
"Jason made some great plays with his legs," said Coach Dustin Peace.
Peace and the CDO staff had decided to hold out Carey, nursing ankle and hand injuries, for at least one game. "We decided earlier in the week (not to play him)," Peace said. "We'll make a decision next week." CDO hosts Nogales this Friday.
"We knew he wasn't going to play," McBrayer said. "He wants to be 100 percent for Scottsdale Saguaro" the first weekend in October. Saguaro is 3-0, scoring over 50 points a game and ranked eighth in Arizona.
Queen Creek wasn't too shabby, either. The Bulldogs battled the Dorados to a 7-7 halftime tie.
On the opening series, McBrayer faked a handoff, then cut back to the left and went 40 yards downfield. With the conversion by Tilghman Harvey, it was quickly 7-0.
On its next series, Quentin Kime had a couple of 10-yard runs. After a 7-yard gain by Eddie Smith, the Dorados were faced with a third-and-three at the Bulldogs 6-yard line. Smith ran for five and a first down to the 1. A false start pushed CDO to the 6, then Smith fumbled and lost the ball.
Queen Creek took the momentum and marched 98 yards down the field to tie the score on a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Adam Brzeczek to Jeff Black.
"They put up a good fight tonight," Peace said of Queen Creek. "They're a quality opponent."
An effective passing game by the Bulldogs challenged CDO early. Brzeczek completed seven of nine passes for 91 yards in the first half, while Black caught four for 63 yards.
Defensively, the Dorados took charge in the second half. Brzeczek was constantly harassed in the second half, completing three more passes, and Black was shut out in the final two quarters.
The Dorados took the lead for good on their opening drive of the third quarter.
McBrayer had runs of 12, 28 and four yards, as the Dorados got down to the 10-yard line. Again, they could not get into the end zone, and Harvey kicked a 27-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.
"We came back in the second half," Peace said. "Not as explosive as usual."
The Dorados went 73 yards on their first possession of the fourth quarter to take a 17-7 lead. An 18-yard pass from McBrayer to Blake Martinez put the ball on the Bulldogs three-yard line. Peace called a time out. McBrayer told the team there was room to move on the left, and on the next play, McBrayer swept left and scored the game-clinching touchdown.
When Queen Creek got the ball back, the Dorados defense overpowered its offensive line.
Carson Martin and Bobby Henkel each recorded sacks. One Dorado hit Brzeczek so hard his helmet came off. The Bulldogs were forced to turn the ball over on downs inside their own 10-yard line.
Kime finished with eight carries for 59 yards, while Smith was 19 for 46. McBrayer completed two of seven passes for 23 yards.
"Having Ka'Deem helps the run and the pass," McBrayer said. "The defense reads Ka'Deem. The passes are better over the top."
McBrayer also pointed out that teams were still putting eight men in the box, even without Carey.
"We need to throw the ball," Peace said.
Ironwood drops a tight one
Cienega 31, Ironwood Ridge 28
The Nighthawks (2-2) showed once again that they can compete with the top teams, losing at #6 Cienega last Thursday, 31-28.
In pursuit of the game-winning score, the Nighthawks drove down to the Bobcats 4-yard line with less than two minutes to play. A fourth-down pass went incomplete in the end zone.
Tyler D'Amore completed 22 of 31 passes for 256 and a touchdown, the most passing yards in Southern Arizona last week. Mitch Fischer gained 93 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
Austin Ballard caught eight balls for 132 yards. For the season, D'Amore has completed 71 percent of his throws for 814 yards and six touchdowns. He's also second in Southern Arizona in total passing yards.
Fischer has 445 yards rushing and is averaging 8.7 yards a carry. He's also scored a team-high eight touchdowns.
The Nighthawks travel to Salpointe Catholic on Friday night.
Sabino 48, Mountain View 14
The Mountain Lions are 1-3, with all three losses to highly ranked teams.
"We have a tough schedule," said coach Justin Argraves. "They're (players) not intimidated."
Last week's game was scoreless late in the first half. Cris Thorson, who became the regular quarterback when Marcos McMillon was diagnosed with a season-ending ACL injury, completed six of 12 passes for 70 yards, and also ran for a touchdown. Weston Kimmel pounded out 116 yards rushing with a score. The Mountain Lions had 279 yards on offense, but were plagued by four turnovers and a bad snap.
"We're in that youth stage," Argraves said. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot." Mountain View hosts Sunnyside on Friday night.
Pusch Ridge 14, Miami 8
The Lions (2-1) won with defense again at Miami. After fumbling the ball away at their own five-yard line, a goal-line stand by the defense kept the Vandals out of the end zone.
"That was a huge turning point," said coach Bob Vance. "The defense played phenomenal."
John Jackson played virtually every play and had many tackles. Tyler Goodwillie completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Daniel McLeod in the second quarter. McLeod caught two balls for 64 yards. Goodwillie completed four of eight passes for 66 yards, and he also led the Lions with 69 yards rushing.
The Lions host Baboquivari on Friday.
The Tigers (0-3) had a bye last week. This Friday, they'll host the Sabino Sabercats.
— Curtis Elliott