By Lee Patterson
Thatcher started slow for the second straight week on offense but made huge adjustments in the 2nd half to dominate 3A American Leadership Academy Queen Creek to pick up a 30-10 win.
The game was played at American Leadership’s Ironwood campus due to the fact that the new turf field wasn’t completed at the Queen Creek campus. The collateral damage to playing games so early in August is that the Monsoon is still very active in Arizona and it proved it’s power Friday night. Most of the first half was played in 25-35 mile and hour winds and dust as part of a huge haboob that consumed the East Valley.
ALA-QC took the opening drive 65 yards in 10 plays to score and take the early 7-0 lead. They used a balanced attack of Freshman RB Aziya Jamison and Junior QB Isiah Anderson to pick apart the Eagles defense. They capped the drive with a 4 yard TD pass from Anderson to TE Taylor Atkin. The Patriots added a 49 yard field goal from Talen Rider to take an early 10-0 lead.
Thatcher’s lone first half score came on a 1 yard Riley Morris run after the Eagles recovered a fumbled punt snap to set up a very short field.
ALA-QC lead 10-6 at the break and that is when it got weird. Just before teams were scheduled to come back onto the field the weather turned terrible. The winds picked up to 40mph and the temperature dropped 15 degrees and the skies opened up and dumped so much water that flooded the parking lot and created rivers as the water ran into storm drains. The game was delayed 30 minutes to wait for the storm to pass.
When the 2nd half finally started the Eagles looked rejuvenated. They picked up 2 points on another fumbled punt snap to cut the Patriot lead to 10-8. The ensuing free kick went out of bounds and Thatcher got the ball at midfield. Thatcher committed to to the run on this drive with Riley Morris left, right and up the middle to steal all of the momentum and set up a 1st and goal the Patriot 12 yard line. Then it got weird again. The ALA-QC Athletic Trainer ran out onto the field just before the snap to tell the referee that lightning was within 4 miles and the game needed to be stopped again. It was curious timing to say the least as both teams and all fans were again cleared from the stadium. The mandatory 30 minute delay elapsed and Thatcher came out renewed and punched in the TD to take their first lead of the game 16-10.
The rain stayed away for the remainder of the game but Thatcher continued to bring the thunder and lightning to the Patriots. Riley Morris added a 56 yard TD run as he was never touched on his way to pay dirt to make the score 22-10 Eagles. Thatcher then added an interception that set up great field position and capped of the route with a 14 yard TD run by Bretton Dodge.
Thatcher outscored ALA-QC 24-0 in the second half and the Patriots never strung together more than 1 first down in any of their drives. The Eagles moved to 2-0 and have a big showdown with Show Low Friday night. You can hear that game live on KATO 1230 AM or online by clicking here.