After taking a 17-6 lead into halftime, the Lake Havasu football lost in the second half to fall 19-17 to Yuma Cibola on Saturday in Flagstaff at the Northern Arizona University Walkup Skydome.
The game was as competitive as Havasu’s coach Karl Thompson expected it to be. The Knights have seen the Raiders more than a few times over the years and every game has been hard fought. With Saturday’s loss, Havasu is 2-6 all-time against Cibola.
“It was a good chess match. We were going toe-to-toe and it could have gone either way,” Thompson said. “A couple penalties and missed assignments caught up with us there at the end of the game but we played a lot of good football. We had the opportunities, handled ourselves well but we just didn’t finish.
Down two, with 3:53 left to play, Havasu forced a turnover to give itself a chance to pull ahead. A couple of incomplete passes halted the Knights drive, though. When the Raiders got the ball back, they chewed the clock and never relinquished the ball before the final whistle.
The first half belonged to Havasu, however, as the defenced dominated Cibola by keeping it scoreless in the first quarter.
Jayden Azar picked off Cibola on its first drive to give Havasu good field position. The Knights got into the red zone a few plays later when quarterback Brace Spencer threw a 32-yard bomb to Jace Taylor. Jacob Schafer then ran for a 6-yard touchdown to give Havasu a 7-0 lead after the first quarter.
After another long drive early in the second quarter, Jonathan Perez rushed around and through the Raiders defense for a 17-yard touchdown.
After a pair of personal fouls gave Cibola the advantage to score, Havasu used some trickery to keep the advantage on the next drive.
On fourth-and-2 at their own 29-yard line, the Knights called a fake punt and Perez ran for 47 yards, deep into the Raiders territory. A Perez field goal gave the Knights a 17-6 lead. Perez missed a longer attempt by a couple of feet just before halftime.
In the third quarter starting cornerback, Jordan Arellano left the game with a leg injury. After that, the Knights stellar defense in the first half started to slip.
Cibola quarterback Ethan Arvizo took advantage of the Knights miscues on defense and was able to connect with Jacob Gettings for a 35-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Shortly after, Spencer fumbled to give Cibola the ball near midfield. The Raiders ate the clock, driving for almost eight minutes before finding the end zone with a 5-yard pass from Arvizo to Jesse Chavez to go up 19-17 for its first lead of the game.
Before Havasu played Cibola, Thompson said this game was going to show the Knights how they measure up going into the rest of the season. Now that its over, the way Havasu played against the Raiders on Saturday has it hopeful going forward despite the loss.
“We knew Cibola was going to be the physical opponent and we got to see where we stood,” Thompson said. “We left it all out there and that is what we want to see from our kids. That you have to put it all out there and do whats best for the team. We are where we want to be.
“The wins are on us, the losses are on us and we are going to go right back to it next week as we get ready for Mohave.”
With the loss, the Knights are 1-1 overall as they head home to prepare for its home opener against Mohave for the annual Golden Shovel game in the newly renovated Lee Barnes Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday.