Desert Vista's late FG surprises Basha

Desert Vista's late FG surprises Basha

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Desert Vista's late FG surprises Basha

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Phoenix Desert Vista players celebrate their high school football game win against Chandler Basha in Phoenix on Friday, September 11, 2015.

Phoenix Desert Vista players celebrate their high school football game win against Chandler Basha in Phoenix on Friday, September 11, 2015.

Phoenix Desert Vista players celebrate their win against Chandler Basha in Phoenix on Friday, September 11, 2015.

Phoenix Desert Vista players celebrate their win against Chandler Basha in Phoenix on Friday, September 11, 2015.

Phoenix Desert Vista senior kicker Connor Culp had been in this situation before. Called upon in a time of need, his walk-off field goal attempt against Gilbert Highland was blocked in the first game of the season.

On Friday against Division I No. 8 Chandler Basha, Culp got his redemption.

Culp’s 31-yard field goal with less than a minute remaining sealed a 23-20 victory for Desert Vista (3-1), fulfilling a moment that Culp had been waiting for ever since that blocked kick.

“I’ve been dying for another opportunity like that, and they don’t come every day,” Culp said. “The whole time on the sideline (before the kick), I had a smile on my face.”

Culp, a LSU commit, went 3 for 4 on field goal attempts Friday, put the finishing touches of the win over Basha (2-2) and heralded junior quarterback Ryan Kelley.

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“He’s an All-American, and I’ll always put him out on the field to win games for us,” Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. “We’re really lucky to have a kid like that. He’s worked so hard in the offseason, and he’s a good one.”

Basha has now dropped two games in a row after having high expectations to begin the year.

“We started off positive, but we got a little cocky,” Kelley said. “Now, we’ve been humbled, and we’re going to come back at it next week and prepare for Mountain Pointe and play a very physical team.”

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Kelley appeared to have overcome a first-half eye injury to give Basha control of the game, but Desert Vista’s defense swarmed for a fourth-down stop with 6 minutes remaining to set up the game-winning drive.

Hinds said his team’s effort defensively was key to scoring the upset.

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“We slowed down the best quarterback in the state and you guys saw him,” he said. “That kid is phenomenal. I’m really proud of our defense and the way we played tonight.”

The defense forced two turnovers against Kelley, recovering a fumble in the first quarter and picking off the quarterback in the second quarter before he settled down.

Desert Vista was powered by the running game, which saw a pair of 100-plus-yard games from sophomore Keishaud White and junior Lelon Dillard. White had 11 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns, while Dillard carried the ball 26 times for 107 yards.

“Our offense is built around that,” Hinds said. “With our great inside run and our offensive line, it creates seams for Keishaud and that fly guy. It all works hand in hand. If we didn’t have the O-line, we didn’t have a kid like Lelon running up inside, the fly wouldn’t be there.”

Desert Vista now sits at prime position to surprise teams in Division I and potentially make a deep playoff run, something almost unimaginable for a program that has been mired in mediocrity since winning a state title in 2011.

“It’s a totally different feeling,” Hinds said. “It’s like night and day with this group. These kids want to win, and as you can see they’re finding ways to do it. I’m proud to be the coach of these guys.”

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