Florence pounds Round Valley in quarters with big 2nd half

November 13, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Florence survived  the first half of its 3A quarterfinal matchup Saturday night with Round Valley thanks to two big plays on offense.

The Gophers thrived in the second half on takeaways and controlling the line of scrimmage.

Kyle Washington's 39-yard touchdown run on a fake punt early in the third period snapped a 14-14 tie and the Gophers went on to  force four turnovers after that secure a 35-21 victory over Round Valley at Desert Ridge High School.

The win avenged Florence's only defeat of the season, a 36-35 loss to the Elks in September. Coach George De La Torre's Gophers advance to face Blue Ridge on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. at Paradise Valley in a rematch of their semifinal meeting last season. Round Valley closed the season at 7-5.

It was quite a night for Washington and all the Gophers (11-1). Five different players scored touchdowns for Florence, but Washington was a key figure all game.

The senior running back-defensive back intercepted two passes - one in each half. The second one in the third period came a minute after his TD scamper from punt formation. That pick set up a short 40-yard drive capped by Cade Cleman's 21-yard TD run that improved Florence's lead to 28-14 with 4:37 left in the third period. It was the first time either team had been able to grab more than a touchdown lead in  the game.

A minute after Clemans' TD run, defensive back Nick Brown, who ran 98 yards for a first-half score for the Gophers, intercepted Round Valley quarterback Chantz Davis at the Elks 39. Eleven plays later quarterback Harrison Parker scored from the 1 for a 35-14 advantage with 10:02 to play. Florence forced six turnovers in all, five of them interceptions.

The fake punt , however, was the turning point of the game. Not  just because it worked in at least gaining a first down, but because it resulted in a touchdown.

"I was supposed to throw the ball," Washington said. "But a I saw a big gap and someone coming from the outside, so I ran."

Parker , subbing for injured quarterback Jace Hulsey, added an interception in the game's first two minutes and a few seconds later tossed a 71-yard TD pass to Adam Touhey for a 7-0 lead. Round Valley scored on two short runs in the first half -  the first by Braxton Brown that tied the game at 7. The second was by Rance Allen and followed Nick Brown's 98-yard score tying the game to halftime at 14 apiece.

"Losing the first time to them motivated us a lot," Washington said. "We didn't have that hard of  a schedule. We wanted to come back and prove we could beat a good team."



Washington also tipped a pass in the final four minutes that led to an interception by teammate Alan Jones. That pick thwarted a comeback attempt by Round Valley, which scored with 4:06 left to pull within 35-21. The Elks recovered an onside kick after that score, but the Jones pick finally put the game out of reach.