Panthers come back in 2nd half to beat Badgers
FLAGSTAFF — The Prescott football team failed to hold a two-touchdown lead at halftime, surrendering 27 unanswered points in a 34-27 loss to No. 13-ranked Coconino on Friday night.
Panthers running back Zach Bennett, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season, had 30 carries for 170 yards (not official) and three touchdowns, two of which came in the second half.
“We wanted it. We didn’t come out with energy in the first half, so we went into the locker room and talked about it and said how bad we wanted it,” Bennett said on the field after the game. “We came out a completely different team in the second half.”
Bennett said the Panthers (6-0, 3-0 Grand Canyon) “mixed things up” in the second half.
“They focused on us running outside, so we started running inside, breaking up the middle a bit, and that allowed us to get outside,” Bennett said.
HOW THEY SCORED
In the first quarter, Sam Giordan scored on a 5-yard run to give No. 17 Prescott a 7-0 lead, then quarterback Dellin Boyd found wide receiver Brandon Nelson on a 60-yard touchdown strike to make it 13-0 with 7:47 to go in the second quarter.
After Bennett scored his first touchdown to answer for Coconino, Boyd made it 20-7 with 30 seconds left in the first half off a 12-yard touchdown run and the Badgers were in complete control.
Or so they thought.
At the 11:02 mark in the third quarter, Coconino defensive back Joshua Monke picked off Boyd and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown, then Beau Gomez tied the game at 20-20 with a 1-yard run.
Bennett’s two scores in the fourth quarter sealed the deal.
Boyd completed just 1 of 7 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown but threw three interceptions. He had 10 carries for 58 yards and a score.
“They were bringing a lot of pressure, blitzes we haven’t seen before and it caused havoc in our offense,” Boyd said, adding all the credit goes to Coconino.
“They are a good physical team. We came out pretty flat [in the second half], we just didn’t match their intensity,” Boyd said. “We didn’t execute or play with 100 percent effort.”
Coconino head coach Mike Lapsley said he told the players in the locker room at half time to “keep fighting” after they found themselves trailing 20-7.
“We needed to continue to battle, execute in the second half and play our game,” Lapsley said.
With Bennett’s three scores and leading Coconino’s rushing attack, which had 241 total yards on the ground Friday night, Lapsley said his running back’s desire is “unmatched.”
“He’s a great kid, on and off the field. … Give credit to the offensive line, because without those guys it wouldn’t have happened,” Lapsley said of Bennett.
Senior defensive end Aaron Greene left the game with an apparent shoulder injury early in the third quarter Friday night.
The extent of his injury is unknown. Greene has his right arm in a sling after the game and said he was going to have x-rays taken.
Prescott (3-3, 1-1 Grand Canyon) returns to Bill Shepard Field next week to host cross-town rival Bradshaw Mountain.
The Bears (3-4, 1-2 Grand Canyon) were shutout by Flagstaff 20-0 on Friday night in Week 7 action at the Walkup Skydome on the campus of Northern Arizona University.
Kickoff on Friday, Oct. 11, in Prescott is slated for 7 p.m.
Coconino travels to Mohave (3-3, 2-0 Grand Canyon), which upset Mingus 29-28 on Friday night. Kickoff at Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse is set for 3:30 p.m. Oct. 11.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.