Chino Valley head coach Wade Krug had one word to describe Wickenburg’s running attack.
“Nasty,” Krug said.
Six different players rushed for touchdowns, including the first three by running back Kegan Lindsay, as Wickenburg overpowered Chino Valley 61-21 on Friday night in a 3A West clash.
“They have a very effective running game. It’s one of the top running teams in the state, if not the entire nation,” Krug added.
Chino Valley (4-4, 1-2 West) knew what it was up against. It just couldn’t stop it. The Wranglers used a full house backfield, lining up three runners behind the quarterback. They mixed it up with draws, sweeps and counters, and scored the last five touchdowns of the game to win going away.
“We just don’t have the size,’’ Krug said. “That makes it very difficult. We just got worn down.”
Despite the lopsided defeat, Chino Valley was very much in the game in the first half and only trailed at halftime, 32-21.
“I expected the game to go back and forth like it did in the first half,” said Chino Valley tight end Colton Sandberg, who scored two of the Cougars’ three touchdowns. “They just wore us down. We don’t have the depth. We knew we could score on their defense. It was a matter of stopping their offense, which we couldn’t do.”
A wild second quarter saw the two teams combine for five touchdowns.
Chino Valley kept the score close, helped by two big plays. On a flea flicker play, Mike Paulus connected with Hayden Lojek on a 57-yard touchdown pass. The deep pass by Paulus deflected off the hands of Sandberg, and Lojek caught the ball in full stride and raced untouched into the end zone to pull Cougars within 16-14.
“I was supposed to catch that ball,’’ Sandberg said. “Luckily, he (Lojek) was behind me and was able to make the catch.”
Three touchdowns were scored in the final 2:08 of the second quarter.
Wickenburg (4-4, 2-1 West) went 45 yards in two plays, with Tyler Carey busting off a 43-yard run and Lindsay scoring his third touchdown on a 2-yard run to put the Wranglers in front, 24-14.
The Wranglers called two timeouts on Chino Valley’s ensuing possession, hoping to get the ball back and score again before halftime.
They did indeed get the ball back, but that was after Sandberg broke off a 71-yard run down the left sideline on a fake punt to cut Wickenburg’s lead to 24-21 with 1:25 to play.
Wickenburg answered right back on a three play, 55-yard drive. Alex Carrasco scored on a 5-yard run to give Wickenburg a 32-21 advantage heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Wranglers ended all hopes of a win for the hometown Cougars as they outscored Chino Valley 29-0.
Sandberg ended up leaving the game in the third quarter and going through the concussion protocol following a hard hit after making a catch. … Chino Valley kicker Matt Rios missed field goal attempts of 50 and 40 yards in the first half.
It doesn’t get any easier next week for Chino Valley, which hosts Northwest Christian.
“They (Northwest Christian) did to Wickenburg, what Wickenburg did to us,’’ Krug said.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Kevin Hutson is a stringer for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinHutson, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.