Phoenix earn gutsy, comeback win in home opener
Sonoraville rallies from halftime deficit thanks to big plays from defense, special teams
The Sonoraville Phoenix were looking for Friday night to be a grand opening as they played in their home confines for the first time in 2017 while also debuting their brand new video scoreboard. And a gutsy, comeback win allowed them to do just that.
After Cass raced out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, the Phoenix buckled down and rallied for a 14-13 win at The Furnace thanks to some big plays from their defense and special teams.
Sonoraville (1-1) came out in the third quarter trailing 13-0, and while their offense sputtered, the defense picked up the slack to force multi- ple three-and-outs. Needing a momentum-changing play, the Phoenix blocked a punt midway through the third and recovered the ball to set up shop near the Cass 25.
A few plays later, Sonoraville quarterback Patrick Moore cashed in on the turnover, finding a hole and running into the end zone on six-yard touchdown run on third down to make it 13-7.
On the next offensive possession, Cass ( 0- 2) mishandled a shotgun snap, and Sonoraville’s Chandler Shaw scooped up the fumble and ran it back 32 yards to give the Phoenix a 14-13 lead following Dawson Holbrook’s second extra point of the night. The defense then made the score hold up from there, coming up with several stops and two turnovers. Blade Bryant had an inter- ception early in the fourth quarter, and Shaw came up with another big play in the final minutes, hauling in an interception to seal the game.
“We kept it close there when we weren’t really playing well on either side of the ball in the first half…keeping it within two scores,” said Sonoraville coach Denver Pate. “And in the second half, the defense came out and played their tails off. They carried us. I can’t say enough about Chandler Shaw. He’s a kid that is getting over a knee injury, and this is really only his second week back. He came up with two huge plays for us tonight.
“It’s always good to be 2-0. And it’s good to get down in a game and see how the kids respond. We have a lot of kids playing that don’t have a lot of experience so to get them battle-tested like this is really good early in the season.”
The Sonoraville offense was held in check for most of the night by a swarming Cass defense. The Phoenix had less than 100 total yards for the game, but their defense did more than pick up the slack.
Cass started the game with a long, clock- churning drive that lasted more than half the first quarter and included multiple thirddown conversions and a fourth- down conversion. It was eventually punctuated with a 14-yard touchdown connection between quarterback Rett Moore and Malik Grimes to make it 6-0 with 5:02 remaining in the opening quarter. (The extra point missed off the upright.)
After the Cass defense got a stop on Sonoraville’s first possession of the game, the Colonels took a quicker approach to their next drive, as running back Thomas Gilliam out-sprinted the Phoenix defense for a 60-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0 after the PAT.
Both defenses dug in from there to keep each other out of the end zone and make the score 13-0 in favor of the Colonels at the halftime break. Sonoraville’s offense had plenty of trouble getting going in the first two quarters as they could only mus- ter 12 total yards.
“We had some trouble with our fits on defense on the first two drives, but after that, Coach (Ricky) Ross and the defensive staff made some adjustments and got things squared away,” said Pate. “We were able to get people swarming to the ball and running side to side rather than north and south.”
Sonoraville is back on the road next Friday for another stiff non-region when they travel to play Dalton at Harmon Field.
Sonoraville’s Patrick Moore (center) tries to break the tackle of two Cass defenders in the first half on Friday.
Sonoraville’s Blade Bryant (7) and Colton Richards (26) look to bring down Cass’ Thomas Gilliam during the first quarter.