Both Surprise Shadow Ridge and host Buckeye had the hardest times protecting the football in Friday night Division III, Section VII matchup.
But Shadow Ridge running back Chris Salsberry was there to make the difference once again.
Salsberry carried 23 times for 153 yards and three touchdowns to lift Shadow Ridge to a 27-21 win, offsetting a glossy return performance by Buckeye quarterback Art Bojorquez, who threw for 354 yards, but was intercepted twice.
Salsberry broke the Buckeye backs with a 26-yard touchdown run off a screen pass from Anthony King late in the third quarter for a 20-7 Shadow Ridge lead and then bursted 35 yards through the line to set up his third touchdown of the night, a 5-yard run, for a 27-7 lead early in the fourth.
Bojorquez returned to action after missing last week’s loss to Avondale Agua Fria and completed 21 of 36 attempts. Buckeye (4-2, 1-2) also fumbled the ball away three times as each of its five turnovers happened in Shadow Ridge territory.
“We can’t make mistakes like that against a team like that and expect to win,” Buckeye coach Bobby Barnes said. “They’re a good football team and you can’t beat any good football team with those kinds of mistakes.”
Shadow Ridge (5-1, 2-1) marched 70 yards on 12 plays on the first drive of the game as Salsberry carried seven times for 30 yards on the drive and capped it with a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead.
From there, both offenses shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. Trevor Mucci picked off a Bojorquez pass as Buckeye moved to the Shadow Ridge 46. On Buckeye’s next possession, a flea-flicker from Keiontae Bell to Quinten Hunt gained 51 yards to the Shadow Ridge 7, but Bojorquez couldn’t handle the snap on the next play and fumbled the ball away to Shadow Ridge’s Jejquille Harker.
Shadow Ridge then pounded the ball to the Buckeye 24 but a Mucci pass was intercepted by Jesse Rodriguez.
Shadow Ridge managed to put together a five-play, 56-yard drive capped by Mucci’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Niesen for a 14-0 lead with 1:53 left in the half.
Buckeye, again, drove to the Shadow Ridge 29 before the half, but Bojorquez’s pass was picked off by Gabe Jordan.
“We thought we would have had 28 points in the first half, but penalties and turnovers hurt us,” Shadow Ridge coach Rico Tipton said. “Once we got it going we took control.”
Buckeye came to life in the third quarter. Bojorquez connected with Hunt for 20 yards and Cutter Hart for 22 yards to set up Torres Guy’s 1-yard run to trim the lead to 14-7.
After Salsberry’s key touchdowns, Bojorquez led Buckeye on two scoring drives capped by a pair of Chayce Bryant 3-yard touchdown runs, but it was too little too late as Buckeye failed on the onside kick with 10 seconds remaining in the game.