High school football
Sabino's 41-35 win over Sahuaro 'not the prettiest thing'
Sabino football coach Jay Campos didn't shy away from the truth when his team gathered around him Thursday night, after logging a come-from-behind victory against East-Side rival Sahuaro.
"That it was not the prettiest thing I've ever seen," Campos said.
Star senior Drew Dixon amassed 361 yards rushing and receiving and scored four touchdowns to lead Sabino past Sahuaro for a 41-35 victory as part of the Coaches for Charity Kickoff Classic. The Sabercats used a 20-point fourth quarter to rally past the Cougars for the second year in a row, notching their 12th win in the last 13 meetings in of one of Tucson's most prominent rivalries.
Despite the season-opening win, Campos reminded his players about how much work needs to be done for the Sabercats to have a shot at playing for the 3A state championship some 14 weeks down the road. Still, the longtime coach also expressed how proud he was about the way his team fought back.
The team at Sabino High School heard their coach.
"We didn't play our best," said Dixon, who is verbally committed to play for the Arizona Wildcats. "It's a big rivalry, probably one of our biggest games of the season, and now we're just going to get better from it."
For a while, it looked like Sahuaro High School was about to pull of a rare win against Campos and the Sabercats. The visiting Cougars rattled off several big plays throughout the night and led 28-21 heading into the final period Thursday night, before a turnover helped spark Sabino to life.
"I told the boys that it was not the prettiest thing I've ever seen in my life but, at the end of the day, we found a way to get it done," Campos said. "I'm not happy with our conditioning level right now, our execution level and just some of the stupid things that we did but, I've got to give the boys a lot of credit because our backs were against the wall and we could have folded up."
"We kept on fighting because we know we have a chance until those clocks hit zero."
Sahuaro quarterback Nick Fountain put the Cougars up 28-21 with 1:02 left in the third quarter, after rushing for his second touchdown of the game. After both teams exchanged fumbles, Dixon rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars, who pulled off a 21-13 victory at Sabino in 2014, went three-and-out in their next possession before Sabino turned it over on downs. But the Sabercats got the ball right back thanks to a Sahuaro fumble and they didn't squander the opportunity.
Junior quarterback Alex Bell rolled to his right facing a third down and found senior Andrew Carlsen open in the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, putting Sabino ahead 35-28 with 4:44 remaining.
"We needed a game-changer," said Carlsen, who caught for passes for 37 yards. "I just went out there and found the right open hole. We needed something for the crowd, we needed something for our team – I think that's what got it for us."
The Sabercats all but sealed the game when senior James Offerman scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown a minute later. But Sahuaro managed to punch in one more score – a 4-yard run by junior Lincoln Stewart – before Sabino ran out the clock.
Even though Sahuaro came out on the losing end, Fountain and the Cougars had plenty to be excited about – especially on offense. Fountain tied the game early when he broke lose for a game-tying 84-yard touchdown run and then connected with senior Tyler Wood for a 44-yard score to put Sahuaro up 14-7. Then it was senior Matt Paquette flew up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown run on the Cougars' next possession.
"We learned that we make a lot of mistakes and we've got to stay focused to the whole time," Fountain said. "I lost my focus a lot. I dropped the ball. I made mistakes. I think that if we get it solid, I think we'll be able to come out and win the rest of our games."