Arizona football: Ganado finds a way to top Chinle in ugly game

(Times photo – Quentin Jodie)

Chinle senior quarterback Wanya Grey gets ready to make a pass against Ganado on Sept. 20 in Burnside Junction, Ariz. Chinle lost, 34-28, in a game that was marred by penalties and turnovers.

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

BURNSIDE JUNCTION, Ariz., Sept. 26, 2013

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(Times photo – Quentin Jodie)

Ganado’s Michaes Pineda comes up a few yards short of making a touchdown catch during their game with Chinle on Sept. 20. The senior wideout caught eight receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

The numbers were pretty grotesque for any football team.

On Sept. 20, Ganado played host to Chinle in a game that was marred by penalties and turnovers.

Collectively, both teams had a hard time establishing any rhythm as they turned over the ball seven times each.

Nonetheless, the Hornets remained unbeaten at 4-0 as they chalked up a 34-28 come-from-behind victory.

“I am speechless,” Ganado coach Brandon Newcomb said. “(Last) week our word for the week was perseverance. Our principal comes out with a key word and that was our theme for the week at our school.

“Maybe it sunk in with the kids because we persevered,” he added.

Newcomb said this was a great win for the program, considering the amount of respect that he has for his counterpart Tim Su’e Su’e Liufau.

As Chinle’s fourth year coach, Liufau has led his team to the state playoffs the last two years.

“He has done a marvelous job,” Newcomb said. “He and I both started at the same time four years ago and it’s the first time that I’ve beaten him."

For a while it looked like Newcomb would have to wait another year to get that victory. In addition, Ganado’s perfect season was also in jeopardy.

With 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, Chinle senior running back Dominique Yazzie ran in the final 11 yards in a 62-yard drive that took up 10 plays.

The Wildcats then took a chance and converted a two-point conversion for its only lead of the night when senior quarterback Wanya Gray found George John III open for a 28-26 lead.

On its next possession, the Hornets had a 43-yard kickoff return from Clay Gishie call back on a penalty near midfield.

In spite of that, Ganado senior quarterback Darrell Boling connected with sophomore wideout Mike Jones for a 27-yard gain just inside Chinle’s 25-yard line.

Two plays later, the Hornets got another first down as Jones caught a 10-yard reception with less than three minutes to go.

That drive, however, took another turn as Ganado was facing a fourth-and-10. But on its last play Boling connected with his favorite receiver – Michaes Pineda – on a clutch 15-yard touchdown reception with 1:13 to go.

Senior Liam Morez then tacked on the two-point conversion for a 34-28 lead for Ganado.

“When I got that snap everyone was covered,” Boling said of the last play. “And then I saw a safety draw hard into the flats so I threw it up. (Pineda) was covered by three guys but he still made the perfect catch."

Pineda, who caught eight receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns, said that play materialized because of the connection they have.

“We have that hand-eye coordination down,” he said. “We worked on that during the summer and it showed tonight."

Newcomb said it was nice to see Boling and Pineda make that final touchdown count since the two seniors never missed a single day of practice since spring ball last May.

“That was real special because they were able to convert on that,” the Ganado coach said. “They are two guys that I can count on."

Offensively, the Hornets racked up 528 yards with Boling throwing for 408 yards with five touchdowns. He made 25-of-37 passes with his longest going for 57 yards to Pineda.

Boling hit six different receivers with Pineda leading the way. Junior Lane Salabiye chipped in with 11 receptions for 150 yards.

Boling also had 49 of Ganado’s 67 yards of rushing.

“My football DNA is to run the ball,” Newcomb said. “That kind of hurt us tonight because we couldn’t run out the clock when we got the lead.

“If we’re going to win some more games we need to run the football in that kind of situation and chew out the clock,” he added.

For Chinle, senior running back Dominique Yazzie carried the team as he chalked up 223 yards on 33 carries and scored three touchdowns.

“He came through for us and he ran pretty hard,” Liufau said of Yazzie.

The Chinle coach said the difference between winning and losing the game did not take place in the fourth quarter. He said the outcome of the game happened at the start of the game as the Wildcats uncharacteristically turned over the ball six times in the first half.

“Ganado is a great team but turnovers are going to hurt you no matter what,” said Liufau, as his team dropped to 1-3 for the year.

Besides the turnovers, the Wildcats were penalized 10 times for 55 yards, including five instances where they kept Ganado’s drive alive.

“We weren’t discipline because there were a few times we went offsides,” Liufau said. “I love my kids but they are so raw. We didn’t execute like we were supposed to but I am still proud of them."

On Friday the Hornets will host Holbrook while entertain Round Valley.

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