For Canyon Del Oro, the bad news was that Ka'Deem Carey had 16 yards rushing at halftime. The good news was that CDO held Cienega star Willie Willis to five in the half.
For 24 minutes, Friday night's 4A-1 semifinal game at Tucson High School looked like a heavyweight fight between two top-ranked contenders. Cienega slugged its way to a 3-0 lead.
But, for the second straight week, CDO erupted with a blitzkrieg of offense in the third quarter, scoring six touchdowns, forcing five turnovers defensively and rolling to a 48-16 win over the Bobcats.
The win puts the 13-0 Dorados into the 4A-1 state championship game with Sabino, a team CDO defeated 34-21 during the regular season, at 6 p.m. Saturday at the University of Arizona.
"Cienega had us scared there for a while," said CDO coach Dustin Peace. "In the second half, we broke it open."
The break-out offensive play for the Dorados came on the second play of the half, when Carey raced 55 yards for a touchdown to give CDO its first lead at 7-3. The Bobcats did not find the end zone until the fourth quarter, pleasing Peace.
"We played great defense throughout the game," the coach said.
Indeed, CDO's defense set the tone. Carey and Josh Robbins, who clamped down on Cienega's big wide receiver Trent Simon in the second half, each intercepted a pair of passes in the game. Jared Tevis had a pick he ran back for a touchdown, part of a remarkable burst for the senior.
Tevis, who sometimes operates in the formidable shadow of Carey, had another huge game. In the third quarter, CDO's wide receiver / safety / punt returner scored four touchdowns in three different ways.
A minute after Carey's touchdown, Tevis returned a punt 55 yards for a score. Next, he caught a pass from quarterback Mike Lewis and went 75 yards for a score. Then, on an errant pass by Cienega, Tevis took it back 24 yards for another touchdown that put the game out of reach at 28-3. He finished the rampage with a 59-yard scoring connection with Lewis.
" I don't think I've had a quarter like that before," Tevis said. "We needed to make some changes in the secondary (after the first half). We made a couple of corrections."
In the first half, the Bobcats' Simon burned CDO with six catches for 125 yards. He finished with 151 yards, but only caught two balls in the second half under the duress of Robbins.
Carey scored three touchdowns, gaining 122 yards on 12 carries and catching a 43-yard pass. Tevis finished with 187 yards on five catches. Lewis completed nine of his 17 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
"We're a second-half team," Carey said. "Coach didn't say anything (at halftime). Number 16 (Simon) was killing us. He came out and performed."
Sabino reached the final, the first all-Tucson state championship game since Mountain View beat Sahuaro in 1993, by defeating Scottsdale Saguaro, 28-6.
When they played in November, the Sabercats held Carey to 87 yards rushing. Sabino is paced by Keanu Nelson, who has verbally committed to study and play football at Stanford. Nelson had 202 yards of total offense and scored two touchdowns in the win over Saguaro.