POLACCA, ARIZ. - Hopi High's offense exploded for three touchdowns in the third quarter to break open a close game as the Bruins beat Pinon, 42-19, in the season opener for both teams.
Hopi High Coach Steve Saban said the Bruins made some mistakes in the first half, but came back strong in the second half. He said the big difference in the second half was using James Thompson and making adjustments in blocking and offense.
Coach Saban noted that Hopi suffered due to some penalties, but he added that this is expected when there are new guys playing. There are only two seniors on this young team. He said mistakes are always expected in the season opener.
"I'm glad that the kids responded in the third quarter," he said. "They had the momentum going into halftime and we had to get it back."
Coach Saban said the Bruin defense played well except for two pass plays in the first half. He said that was due to having players who had never played previously.
"We'll try to shore that up during the next couple games. But overall our defense had a good team swarm," he said.
Coach Saban said Allen Joshevama performed well for the first game he ever played at quarterback.
"Our team goals remain to progress every game, avoid injuries and remain academically eligible," he said. "If we do that, then we'll be in good shape and win a bunch of games."
It didn't take long for Hopi to start the scoring. On the second play from scrimmage, Blake Sekaquaptewa intercepted a pass and returned it 40 yards for the TD. A run attempted failed for the PAT, but Hopi led 6-0 with 11:27 to go in the opening quarter.
The score remained that way until the second period. Hopi started a 80 yard 12-play drive in the first quarter and ended with a score in the second quarter. Russell Dewangyumptewa scored on a seven yard run. The run failed again on the conversion attempt, but Hopi led 12-0 with 7:40 left in the half.
Two plays later, Pinon struck back. Quarterback Jared Yellowhair unleashed a 65 yard TD pass to Jeremiah Ramirez. Scott Tohe kicked the extra point as Pinon pulled within 12-7 with 6:46 remaining in the second period.
Hopi drove from its own 20 to the Eagles 47 yard line before fumbling the ball. On the next play from scrimmage, Yellowhair found Verdell Jones on a 56 yard TD pass play. The kick was blocked, but Pinon led 13-12 with 2:45 left in the half. The score remained that way at halftime.
Hopi started the third period by moving 71 yards in seven plays. Joshevama keyed the drive with a 43 yard pass to Thompson. Three plays later, Thompson broke free for a 22 yard scoring trot. Joshevama ran in the conversion points as the Bruins led 20-13 with 9:36 remaining in the third period.
Pinon started the next possession at its 20 yard line. The Hopi defense clamped down and had the Eagles pinned down at their two yard line. Sekaquaptewa then intercepted a pass and returned it from the 14 yard line for the TD. Thompson ran in the PAT and Hopi led 28-13 with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hopi recovered a Pinon fumble. On the next play from scrimmage, Thompson ran in for a 29 yard TD. It was called back due to a penalty. No matter. On the next play, Thompson broke free for a 34 yard TD run. The run failed on the conversion attempt, but Hopi led 34-13 with 6:47 left in the third stanza.
Pinon wasn't done as Yellowhair found Jones on a 29 yard TD pass. The run attempt failed, but the Eagles pulled within 34-19 with 30 seconds left in the third period. That's as close as Pinon would come.
Hopi closed out the scoring in the fourth period when Joshevama connected with Darius Harvey on a seven yard TD pass. Joshevama also found Sylvan Sahnea in the end zone for the two point conversion as the Bruins led 42-19 with 8:15 left in the game.