With 114 combined points on the board in a rivalry game, it almost seemed too scripted that a major stop at the goal line on the last drive would decide the outcome.
Phoenix Paradise Valley’s defense forced a turnover on downs to preserve a 59-55 win over Phoenix North Canyon on Friday night.
“We came out strong, and we had to make stops,” Paradise Valley’s outside linebacker Max Van Kempen said.
“With 50 seconds left, the defense was talking about making plays out there and needing to step up. We had to lock up their best receiver (Bryant) O’Georgia, and that was the last possession of the game.”
North Canyon (0-2) pulled within 59-55 when O’Georgia completed a two-play, 80-yard drive with a 74-yard touchdown reception with 5:16 left in the game.
“It came down to execution for us, and that is what cost us the game,” said O’Georgia, who had an earlier touchdown reception of 28 yards.
“I was trying to make a play, and it comes down to football instincts, and (you) have to make a play for your team.”
Paradise Valley (2-0) got the ball back and started to milk the clock with short bursts of running and passes, making it all the way to the 1-yard line of North Canyon.
After being stopped at the goal line on fourth and goal, the defense forced a quick turnover downs on four plays before taking a knee to seal the win.
“We made plays when we needed to, and our defense had a heck of a night,” Paradise Valley wide receiver Jordan Brown said. “Our sophomore quarterback (Daniel Bridge-Gadd) came up huge for us, and that’s all we could ask for tonight.”
Brown played a major part in the third quarter to give Bridge-Gadd a reliable target in the fourth quarter, with 79 of his 143 total yards on only two catches. He scored three touchdowns.
North Canyon was led by Onuche Okwoli, who finished with five touchdowns, including a 96-yard interception return.