Ryan Kelley, making his first varsity start at a school known for quarterbacks, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two others to lead and rally Chandler Basha to a 31-23 victory over host Phoenix Desert Vista on Friday night in the first game of the season for both Division I schools.
“It makes me feel trusted by my coaching staff,” Kelley said, after being asked to describe making his first varsity start as a sophomore. “It really feels great. I was a little bit nervous before the game but I trusted my teammates. I trusted my line and I trusted my receivers.”
It was also a milestone night for Basha Head Coach Gerald Todd, who earned his first win after nearly a decade as an offensive assistant coach at the school.
“This is my first win as a head coach and it makes this win kind of special,” Todd said. “This is a special group of young men that played today. Desert Vista is a great program and to get a win against them is very, very special. … It showed a lot about our kids to overcome adversity (after falling behind in the second half).”
Kelley’s two rushing touchdowns came in the first half, both around left end. The first was a 16-yard run on a fourth and 1, and the second was a 14-yard rush about midway through the second quarter.
Leading 14-0, Basha allowed Desert Vista (0-1) to quickly get back in the game.
The hosts started their rally when kicker Riggs Tamburo made a 44-yard field goal with 3:55 left in the first half.
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On the first play of the ensuing possession, Desert Vista defender Cade Van Raaphorst, who was all over the field all night, picked off a pass by Kelley and raced 25 yards for a touchdown.
Trailing 14-10 at intermission, Desert Vista’s T.J. Roberts returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards to Basha’s 15-yard line. Four plays later, Roberts capped a short drive with an 8-yard touchdown run, and Desert Vista led 16-14 with 9:34 left in the third quarter.
Basha, which ran a no-huddle, pass-oriented offense for most of the game, responded on its next possession and re-took the lead for good when Kelley threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Alexander who dived into the goal-line pylon as defenders closed in.
Down 28-16, Desert Vista made a late bid for a comeback. Quarterback Alex Farina completed a 34-yard pass that help set up a 1–yard touchdown plunge by Roberts with 5:40 left.
After a short break for both teams – during which school officials scrambled to turn off the field sprinklers – Basha closed out the win with a lengthy 12-play drive and a 43-yard field goal with 17.7 seconds to play.
After recovering a squib quick, Desert Vista got off two plays from midfield but both were incomplete passes.