TEMPE – Isikeli Fakava and Jabree Richardson led a strong Tempe running attack on Friday (Aug. 30), as the Buffaloes held off Apache Junction 32-27 in non-region football at Bruce Harper Stadium.
Fakava ran for two touchdowns and gained 78 yards on 13 carries. Richardson used his breakaway speed to gain 189 yards on 11 attempts and a touchdown.
Apache Junction led 14-12 at halftime before the Buffaloes went ahead to stay in the third quarter.
“It did feel good, but we never should have been behind; we played catch-up twice,” Prospectors Coach Vance Miller said. “You can’t expect to play catch-up and win. You run out of time. We didn’t maintain the lead once we had it, and we let it get away from us too many times.”
Tempe (1-0) took a 12-0 lead in the first half on a pair of rushing touchdowns by Fakava – a 26-yard score in the first quarter and a 1-yard run in the second. But Apache Junction (1-1) responded with a pair of TD’s in the second quarter.
Jordan Morris hauled in a 32-yard scoring pass from Gibson Limongello at 6:16 of the second quarter. Four minutes later, a 39-yard field goal attempt by the Buffaloes’ Fariel Corrales was blocked, Nathan Frye recovered the loose ball at his own 1 and returned it 95 yards to the Tempe 5-yard line. From there, Chris Lohman’s touchdown run put the Prospectors up 14-12 with 2:26 remaining in the half.
With 6:55 left in the third quarter, the Buffaloes surged ahead to stay at 18-14 on Sione Tonga’uiha’s 3-yard touchdown run. After Limongello was picked off with 5:19 to play in the quarter, Richardson ran 70 yards for a Tempe score on the next play.
“Coaching teenagers is tough,” Buffaloes Coach Brian Walker said. “We had to talk to them and remind them of what they had to do. We had some guys doing the wrong thing and being individuals. We came out in the second half and still had some bone-headed penalties, but we bounced back and our lead held up.”
The Prospectors pulled to within 25-20 on Limongello’s 32-yard TD run at 1:59 of the third quarter, and Tempe answered with 9:45 left in the fourth when Javan Cooks caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Charles Allison – a score set up when the Buffaloes recovered a Limongello fumble at the AJ 35.
After Apache Junction extended a drive by converting a fourth down at its own 40, the Prospectors cut their deficit to 32-27 on Brody Bullard’s 3-yard TD run with 6:06 remaining. The Prospectors had one last drive in the fourth, but it stalled on downs at the Tempe 43.
Limongello completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and gained 60 rushing yards on nine carries. Tommy Ryan caught five passes for 29 yards; Cameron Garcia had three catches for 61 yards; and Morris made two receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown, and converted all three extra point attempts.
Defensively, Cass Casperson led the Prospectors with six solo tackles, Bullard made four solo stops and assisted on six more, Zach Langenbach and Gio Martinez each made three solo tackles, and Nicolas Moorhead assisted on five tackles along with one solo.
The Prospectors recorded three sacks – two in the fourth quarter by Langenbach and one by Cody Arbogast.
This Friday (Sept. 6), the Prospectors travel to Oro Valley to face Canyon del Oro. The Dorados are 2-0, and defeated Prescott 23-13 on Friday. CDO opened its season with a 59-0 rout of Tucson Flowing Wells.
“(Tempe) was good. They play hard and they’ve got a bruiser of a running back,” Miller said. “We’re plagued with the injury bug. We played a lot of sophomores tonight.
“We fought, but we made too many mistakes. It showed with our youth in key spots,” he added. “Our older guys played their tails off; the younger guys got a taste of what it’s like to play some big boy football.
“We need to clean up some mistakes; just too many mental errors tonight. We’ve got a tough game next week against Canyon del Oro, but if we stay healthy, we should be OK the rest of the year.”