Florence finally foils Fountain Hills

September 17, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

One thing Florence High's football team had trouble with last season was beating playoff-caliber teams in the regular season.

Safford, Estrella Foothills, Empire and Friday night's foe  --  Fountain Hills -- were teams that vanquished Florence in the 2009 regular season.

Last week perhaps that same trend was starting for 2010. Round Valley, which almost certainly will be in the 3A playoff mix come November, edged Florence 36-35.

Trailing unbeaten Fountain HIlls on Friday night ,14-7 at halftime, it looked like more of the same.

But a resolve infected the visiting Gophers as they used their first possession of the second half  to tie the game and their second to produce the game-winning drive in a 21-14 win over the Falcons in a battle of arguably the top two teams in the 3A South.

"This feels good," Florence receiver and defensive back Kyle Washington said. "We haven't beaten Fountain Hills in my four years until tonight. We stopped shooting ourselves in the foot, and tightened things up in the second half.

Florence improved to 3-1 and dropped Fountain Hills to 3-1. Fountain Hills entered the game with three straight shutouts. The Falcons also controlled the first half after falling behind 7-0 in the opening quarter after the first of four turnovers set Florence up at its own 40.

Florence coach George De La Torre reminded his team at halftime of  its identity.

"The first half we couldn't catch fire," De La Torre said. "We're a (ball) controlling team. I just told them the first half was not what we worked for all week."

Florence's scoring drives Friday night were of 60,  66 and 68 yards. The second half was almost exclusively Nick Brown (88 yards rushing), Cade Clemans (40 yards) and Kyle Washington (72 yards) running at the Falcons' defense. A 30-yard run by Washington keyed the first scoring march of the second half. A 33-yard run by Brown got the game-winning drive rolling. Quarterback Jace Hulsey capped the first drive of the second half with 1-yard run and Clemans did likewise on the decisive score.

Florence outrushed Fountain Hills, 156-47, in the second half. Fountain Hills fumbled inside the Florence 10 with 7:33 to play haltling a potential game-tying drive. An interception by linebacker Cody Williams inside the Florence 20 with 1:20 to play finished off the Falcons.

"The turnovers did us in," Fountain Hills coach Jim Fairfield said. "We are a good ball club. But we can't drop the ball in the red zone like we did. They played better than we did in the second half."