|Photo by Kris Cartwright
Corona’s winning streak is alive at seven straight wins for the 2008 season. The Aztecs’ seventh step was a big one—beating Chandler Oct. 18 at Austin Field in Chandler in a high octane, back-and-forth game that not only moved Corona into the No. 2 spot in the ranking but gained CdS more respect than the first six games combined.
It was a face-off between No. 4 Chandler and No. 3 undefeated Corona, in which junior running back Michael Lange was the star after rushing for 175 yards, three TD’s and one blocked point-after touchdown against a speedy Chandler defense that had proved difficult for most teams in the past.
Corona’s defense forced six turnovers and the Aztec offense took advantage of Chandler’s turnovers to break open some big plays, gaining 211 yards rushing and 106 yards passing for a total of 317 yards in this non-conference 5A division I matchup.
Chandler scored first on its opening drive with several completed passes by quarterback Kyle Yount before they took to the ground and ran the ball in for a goal from two yards out on a handoff to Bryce Lamb.
Corona’s first possession also resulted in a touchdown using an imposing running game against Chandler’s highly-touted defense. Lange started the series with a 20-yard kick-off return that set up the Aztec offense on their own 26.
Corona then hit Chandler’s defense with a series of rushing attacks by three Aztec running backs: Lange for 11 yards, Derek Maisel for three yards and Evan Althiede for seven- and five-yard gains. Lange then took a hand-off 60 yards up to the three-yard line setting up CdS for a first and goal on Chandler’s three-yard line, tying the score at 7-7 after Kirby Pellant’s PAT kick.
Corona’s defense stepped up their game in Chandler’s second possession when Althiede snagged his first interception of the game picking off an ill-advised pass from Chandler quarterback Yount on a third and 10. The Aztecs capitalized on their excellent field position with a 25 yard drive by Lange and a three yard explosive run by Althiede into the end zone.
Pellant’s made PAT kick put Corona ahead 14-7. Amazingly, Corona’s running game was working so well that, with 3:13 left in the first quarter, quarterback Chase Cartwright hadn’t needed to put up a pass.
The Aztecs got their second interception of the game in Chandler’s third possession. After trying an unsuccessful running series, Chandler’s Yount was sacked by Aztec Vince Bonanno for a five-yard loss. With the loss of yardage, Chandler went back to a passing game, giving Corona’s Ryan Nolan an opportunity to snatch Yount’s pass out of the air to give the Aztecs another chance to score.
Unfortunately, Corona was unable to capitalize on Chandler’s mistake and No. 80 junior Josh Von Allworden got a chance to kick his first punt on varsity when CdS found itself with a fourth and long.
Chandler’s potent passing game finally worked in the second quarter when Yount found Bryan Lamb on a motion pass for an 81-yard touchdown, tying the score again at 14-14 with 9:15 left in the half.
Corona had to punt the ball away on its next possession after their ground game was stalled with a penalty and Chandler’s defense forced an incomplete pass. Von Allworden once again punted the ball away. Chandler’s punt return resulted in good field position for Chandler at their own 41 yard line.
Corona’s Althiede created problems for Chandler’s offense with his solid tackles and Yount once again went to the air. His pass went off the finger tips of Chandler’s receiver right into Aztec Tyler Giannonatti’s hands.
Giannonatti rushed up the field heading for a TD before Chandler pushed him out of bounds at the 15 yard line. Michael Lange once again went to work, ultimately scoring from three yards out, setting up Pellant for his third PAT kick and giving Corona a lead at 21-14 with 3:33 left in the half.
Chandler went for it when they received the ball on their last possession before the half scoring their third touchdown on a combination of passes and runs to tie the game at 21 before the teams headed to the locker room for half time.
Corona received the kickoff in the second half but was unable to move the ball. After three and out, CdS punted the ball giving Chandler excellent field position for their first possession in the second half. Chandler was able to move the ball to set up a first and 10 at Corona’s 13 yard line.
After a confusing penalty on Corona during a 14-yard touchdown pass by Yount, the play was called back. Yount then attempted another ill-advised pass into traffic where Corona’s Ryan Noland snagged his second interception of the game in the end zone resulting in Chandler’s third turnover.
Corona took over at the 20 yard line and went back to their ground game and running back Michael Lange. To change things up a bit, quarterback Chase Cartwright threw a nice pass to Kirby Pellant that resulted in a 25 yard gain. Lange then went back to work with runs of 14 and five yards before plowing into the end zone from nine yards out. Lange’s second touchdown of the game put the Aztecs ahead for good at 28-21 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
In Chandler’s last possession of the third quarter, they took the ball from their own 40 yard line into the end zone for a touchdown only to have their point after kick blocked by Aztec Michael Lange who was everywhere in this Chandler game. The score was 28-27 for Corona.
Corona Kyle Benson returned the ball to the 40 yard line on Chandler’s kickoff. The third quarter ended on a 15 yard personal foul assessed against Chandler.
Corona scored their fourth touchdown of the game after they started the fourth quarter first and ten on Chandler’s 45 yard line. Cartwright threw up a 27 yard pass that Brendon Tunstall pulled down out of the air on Corona’s second play in the quarter that should make the highlight film. Lange once again went to work scoring his third TD from nine yards out to give the Aztecs at 35-27 lead after Pellant’s PAT kick.
With 10:12 to play in the last quarter, Chandler would attempt several drives with some success but not enough to score any points. On their last drive of the game, Chandler fumbled the ball and CdS recovered to run out the clock.
Corona’s defense was quick, resulting in 79 total tackles and one sack. Althiede was the leading tackler with 17, followed closely by Benson with 15 and Giannonatti with 11. Don’t forget the five—yes, five—interceptions. The last pick-off came on Chandler’s next-to-last drive when Corona’s Althiede snatched Yount’s pass out of the air for his second interception of the game.
Up next, the Aztecs will attempt to win their second Central region championship when they start conference play in two home games.
Corona’s Homecoming celebration comes with the Aztecs taking on Mountain Pointe on Oct. 24, followed by the always-challenging Desert Vista game on Halloween, Oct. 31.
Information about the Aztec football team can be found on Corona’s athletic site at http://www.aztecathletics.com