When Phoenix Washington picked Tempe to be its homecoming opponent, the school was probably hoping Tempe would play like it did the last two seasons when it won just one game.
But this year’s Tempe team is different, and Washington found that out the hard way in Friday night’s 62-20 loss in a Division III matchup.
“When we started the season we told the team we wanted to go 5-5,” Tempe coach Brian Walker said. “They said, ‘No, coach, why can’t we go 10-0.’ The sky’s the limit for these boys.”
While an undefeated season is out of the question after an earlier loss to defending state champion Scottsdale Saguaro, Tempe (4-1) is at least showing opponents it was a mistake to schedule it for homecoming.
Washington (2-3) controlled possession of the ball throughout the first half, but Tempe used the quick-strike passing game of Emanuel Gant to dominate the scoreboard.
Gant threw four touchdown passes in the first half and five overall — to turn a close 7-6 game into a rout. After only holding the ball for just a little over two minutes through the first quarter and a half, Gant led Tempe to four straight scoring drives, including a 90-yard drive midway through the second quarter that gave Tempe a 21-6 lead.
Gant finished with 403 passing yards, and his 35-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Wiatr to start the third quarter put the game out of reach at 42-6.
“I just had to get it to the receivers,” Gant said. “My job is to just throw the ball.”
Washington had chances to keep it close in the first half but failed to score on three trips deep in Tempe territory.