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Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Pinnacle rides big plays, key pick to win over HorizonSep 21, 2012
By Don Ketchum
Phoenix Pinnacle made three big plays for touchdowns – a 91-yard kickoff return, an 80-yard run and a 51-yard pass – for a two-touchdown lead at halftime over Paradise Valley District rival Phoenix Horizon on Friday night (Sept. 21).
But it was a big play by the Pinnacle defense that turned things around after Horizon had regained some momentum and pulled within six points in the second half.
A tipped pass for an interception near midfield gave Pinnacle good field position near midfield with 10 minutes left in the game, and the host Pioneers went on to score a little more than a minute later to replenish their lead and posted a 38-17 victory in a battle of unbeatens.
Division I Pinnacle reached the halfway point of the regular season at 5-1 and Division II Horizon slipped to 4-1. The teams have played six times since Pinnacle opened its doors, and Pinnacle has won all.
“We didn’t panic. We were calm and made some adjustments,’’ said Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke.
“We lived on the big play tonight. Horizon had a great scheme against us, but we were able to make the plays when it mattered.’’
It certainly mattered with the interception, by Jared Moreland, which gave Pinnacle the ball at its own 48.
Three plays later, junior Josh Hoekstra busted through for a 29-yard touchdown run to put Pinnacle ahead 31-17. Hoekstra had scored on an 80-yard run in the first half and went on to finish with 204 yards on 19 carries. Pinnacle had 258 yards on the ground and 125 through the air.
“Josh is one of those special kids. Defenses try to keep schemes on him, but he still makes plays,’’ Zupke said.
Horizon had taken a 7-0 lead with 4:16 left in the first quarter on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Sneed to Brett Bishop. Sneed, a sophomore, was starting at quarterback in place of senior Victor Quinn, who suffered a cracked collarbone the week before against Glendale Deer Valley and is expected to be out from 4-6 weeks.
Pinnacle evened it right away when Tyler Townsley returned the kickoff 91 yards for the score.
The teams traded field goals early in the second quarter for a 10-10 deadlock, before Hoekstra had his 80-yard run and quarterback Michael Sanders found Cules Rose for a 51-yard TD strike.
Horizon went on a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter, finishing it off on an 18-yard scoring pass from Sneed to Spencer Marciniak.
“We hung in there, but those big plays killed us,’’ said Horizon coach Doug Shaffer. I was not pleased with our tackling.’’
Shaffer liked the way Sneed handled himself under pressure.
“He’s our quarterback of the future,’’ Shaffer said. “If you give him some time, he can make some plays. I was pleased with what he did.’’
Quinn’s brother, Charlie, a running back who had had some big rushing efforts coming into the game, struggled to find room to run and wound up with just 29 yards on 15 carries.