Sabino defenders, including Travis Graham (2), converge on Sunnyside wide receiver Alex Leon in Thursday night's game at Sabino.
  Greg Bryan / Arizona Daily Star

Memorable win

Second-half TDs help Sabino end Sunnyside's streak
By Sarah Trotto
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.22.2006

Chris Lundgren couldn't remember exactly what happened on his first touchdown run — or his second touchdown run, the game-winner, for that matter.

"I got hit pretty hard," the Sabino High School senior running back said with his hoarse voice.

Oh, but he'll remember this game for sure.

The Sabercats handed 5A Sunnyside its first loss to a local 4A team since Sept. 12, 1997, with their 14-7 nonconference triumph at home Thursday night.

"It's real big," said Lundgren, who rushed for a game-high 164 yards on 26 carries and scored both of Sabino's touchdowns in the second half. "There are no power points involved, but it's still huge."

Sabino's victory also avenges a 51-20 loss to the Blue Devils last year.

"It's huge," said Sabercats senior defensive back Travis Graham, who intercepted a pass in the end zone with 9:37 left in the game. "It's huge for our confidence and proving to ourselves and everyone else that we can do it."

The Sabercats (4-0) made big defensive plays all night. They prevented the Blue Devils (3-1) from scoring from the Sabino 10-yard line on third and fourth down at the end of the second quarter.

Junior Mark Dragosolovich intercepted a pass by Jamie Valdez 1:49 left to all but end the game.

"The difference in the game was their players made plays and ours didn't," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said. "They smacked our kids in the face and our kids didn't respond to it."

Sunnyside cut Sabino's lead to 14-7 with 4:41 left on backup quarterback Jamie Valdez's 63-yard touchdown heave to Anthony Aguilar on third-and-7. Sanchez said he inserted Valdez in place of starter Sammy Olivas for the second half to "try something different."

Valdez went 4 for 8 for 104 yards. Olivas was 4 for 10 for 38 yards.

Sabino took a 14-0 lead with 6:20 left on Lundgren's 6-yard run following Graham's interception of Valdez in the end zone. Graham made a diving catch in front of a receiver to rob the Blue Devils on first-and-10 at the Sabino 11.

"I just knew they were trying to pass because our guys in the middle were stuffing them and they had nothing," Graham said. "He tried to run a slant on me, but I just got in position and made the play."

The Sabercats scored eight plays later on Lundgren's 6-yard run. A 36-yard catch by Sam Sharawara set up the touchdown.

Sabino scored on Lundgren's 4-yard run on its first drive of the second half. Lundgren kept the 70-yard drive alive with a 14-yard run from the Sunnyside 25 on third-and-3.

After a broken play and a 5-yard run by Lundgren, Justin Randall attempted a pass to Sharawara in the end zone, but a pass interference call on Sunnyside brought the Sabercats to the 4-yard line with a first down. Lundgren then muscled his way through to score, and the extra point kick gave Sabino a 7-0 lead with 6:08 left in the third quarter.

"We opened up our offense a little bit," Sabino coach Jay Campos said of the second half. "In the first half, we don't want to do anything we're uncomfortable with. We just waited and opened things up with more play action."

The teams played to a scoreless tie at halftime. The game figured to be a defensive struggle. Sabino was giving up 4.7 points per game. Sunnyside was allowing two points per game.

"It was where we wanted to be," Campos said. "We wanted to stay in the game in the fourth quarter."

Sabino prevented Sunnyside from scoring from the Sabercats' 10-yard line at the end of the second quarter. Alex Leon caught a 9-yard pass from Olivas to bring the Blue Devils to the Sabino 13 and a Jovan Stevenson 4-yard run brought the Blue Devils to the 9 on first-and-10.

But the Sabercats' tackled Stevenson for a loss of 1 yard on the next play. Patrick Medina could not hold onto a pass in the back of the end zone on third down.

After a timeout, Sunnyside opted not to kick a field goal on fourth down. Olivas took his time looking for an open receiver, but Sabino's Travis Graham and Zack Green were covering Medina so he couldn't make the catch with 2:22 remaining before halftime.

Leon returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown that was called back because of a blocking penalty to start the second quarter.

Sabino's Bobby Bird missed a 37-yard field goal with 2:52 left in the first quarter. After Randall was sacked for a loss of 9 yards, Lundgren got the Sabercats into field goal position with a 13-yard run on third-and 19.

Randall completed 5 of 8 passes for 103 yards. Stevenson rushed for 87 yards on 20 carries.

Most 4A and 5A games in the state were played Thursday to allow players to observe Rosh Hashana today.