Knights football rallies past Deer Valley
Senior Jake Allen scored three touchdowns and junior Brace Spencer added another as the Lake Havasu football team beat Glendale Deer Valley 31-24 in its West Valley regional opener.
It was a slow start for the Knights as they could not put together a drive with ther run or pass in the first half. In the second half, though, it was a different story.
“We gave up points in the first half by not lining up correctly, missing assignments and not executing,” Lake Havasu coach Karl Thompson said. “It was a tale of two halves for us. We couldn’t do a lot of things right in the first half, but in the second, we did a whole lot of things right.”
Havasu entered the second half trailing 17-7 but three minutes in, Allen scored his second touchdown of the game on a 47-yard run up the middle after breaking tackles from Skyhawk defenders to put the Knights within three points.
The Knights eventually tied the game with 5:08 left in the third quarter off a 27-yard field goal by Hayden Lintz after a long drive by Havasu was stopped by Deer Valley.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Deer Valley held the Knights deep in Havasu territory. The Knights were forced to punt, but a Skyhawk tipped the football on the kick and the ball was recovered at Havasu’s three-yard line.
Deer Valley needed only a few tries to find the end zone and go up by a touchdown.
Down again, Havasu quarterback Brace Spencer — who came in for Cole Fuller in the second quarter — put the Knights in Deer Valley territory with a big completion to receiver Jace Taylor. A play later, Spencer ran the ball in from 5 yards out for a touchdown to knot the game again at 24-24 all.
The Knights got just what they need with just under six minutes to go in the fourth. Peyton Luzzi forced the Skyhawks quarterback to fumble and Havasu recovered the ball.
From there, Allen drove the ball up the field, down-after-down, until he found the end zone again for his final touchdown with 1:32 left to go in the game.
With the lead for the first time in the game, all the Knights had to do was run the clock. And that’s exactly what they did to improve to 4-3 overall and 1-0 in West Valley regional play.
The three touchdowns scored by Allen was a career high. Allen got off to a slow start as he had trouble finding holes and was not gaining much yardage.
That second half magic, however, that propelled Havasu to a win started with Allen. After halftime, almost everytime Allen ran the ball he was running somebody over or gutting Deer Valley’s defense for yards towards a first down.
“In the second half the (offensive line) stepped up and played great,” Allen said. “They made holes for me and I just ran through them. It felt good. If we can take away those mistakes, we can beat anybody.”
All but one of the Skyhawks touchdowns came on short fields. Both the first and third Deer Valley touchdowns came after botched punts from the Knights that put the ball inside Havasu’s 5-yard line.
Regardless of the errors though, the Knights never gave up against a Skyhawks team Thompson called “the best 0-6 team we’ve ever seen.”
“We made some early errors but the kids stuck to the game plan,” Thompson said. “We switched up a couple things and the boys performed. That’s all you can ask. We talked about protecting our turf here and the boys kept our home win streak alive. It was a good team effort.”
Before Friday, Havasu failed to score a touchdown and was outscored 45-0 its last two games. Out of the scoring slump and riding the momentum of a comeback win, the Knights will travel to Phoenix on Friday to face West Valley opponent Glendale Cactus at 7 p.m.
Cactus is 5-2 overall, 1-1 in West Valley play and ranked No. 5 out of 47 teams in the 4A conference — Havasu entered Friday ranked No. 26. The Cobras lost to No. 9 Goodyear Desert Edge — a West Valley region team — 33-22 on Friday.