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Tuscon Sunnyside running back Kevin Harrigan carries the ball during a game against North Canyon.

Michael Schennum / The Arizona Republic

Late turnover boosts Sunnyside

by Alex Espinoza - Aug. 29, 2009 12:00 AM
Special for The Republic

Usually, when a team erases a 14-point halftime deficit, it's the best comeback of the night.

But that wasn't the case Friday in Phoenix, because Tucson Sunnyside needed a pair of comebacks to defeat Phoenix North Canyon 24-20.

"We didn't make any plays in the first half," Sunnyside coach Richard Sanchez said. "But I just told them (at halftime) to cut down on the mistakes and play error-free football and they did a great job of responding."

With about 1:45 left in the game, North Canyon seemed to have the victory wrapped up. Senior running back Tavonn Dodson was streaking down the field, his team holding a 20-17 lead. Then a few seconds later he was caught from behind and lost the football.

About a minute after that, Sunnyside senior quarterback Perry Shazier connected with senior wide receiver Chris Howard on a 33-yard, game-winning score.

"I'm extremely proud of this team," Howard said. "I like how we fought all the way through the whole game. I mean, we're a second-half team. We give the most in the fourth quarter.

"That's what we trained all summer for."

It was an especially heartbreaking loss for North Canyon, as it entered the locker room with a 14-0 lead.

Sophomore Julian Jones replaced Shazier at quarterback with about three minutes left in the half and injected some life into the Sunnyside offense.

Shazier came back at the end of the game, though, to run the two-minute offense.