Everyone was excited at Marana’s Homecoming celebration on Oct. 5, as the Tigers won big. The fans were excited, the players were ecstatic, and even the coaches were more than elated afterwards.
The Tigers defeated visiting Vista Grande, 35-7.
Offensively, Marana’s been competitive all season, despite their 2-5 record, as they’ve scored 26 or more points in four of their last five games. But it was the defense that came up big.
Playmaking wide receiver Dennis Wilson electrified the crowd with his 47-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
That play was made possible by Travis Howard, who hit the quarterback as he was throwing, causing the pass to misfire. Howard also added a sack in the game.
“The defense played a great game,” said Marana coach Andy Litten. “Our defense really stepped up.”
The Tigers’ defense did not allow a score until 5:25 remained in the third.
“We like to play 11/3,” said senior running back Domenic Holliday. “Eleven men to the ball, and three and out.”
Holliday led the Tigers’ offense with 82 yards rushing and clinched the game with a 38-yard touchdown run with 6:00 left in the game for a 35-7 lead.
Coming out with purpose at the start of the game, the Tigers scored on their first possession. Marana quarterback Ben Honea completed passes to Eric Huerta and Jeffery Carranza, and they got the ball down to the Grande 26-yard line. A few plays later, Wilson took a handoff and raced 18 yards down to the 1-yard line. After a loss, Holliday caught a three-yard pass from Honea for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Honea was 6-12 for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
But it was an interception of Honea that gave the Spartans (1-6) their best opportunity late in the first half.
Trailing 14-0, a 24-yard run took the ball down to the 22-yard line of Marana. But with time running out, Howard came up with a huge sack. Then on the next play, the ball was thrown into traffic, and in volleyball style, Wilson flicked it to Holliday who picked it off to run out the first half.
“We shut them down on defense,” Holliday said. “We wanted to come out and play with passion.”
Defensively, the Tigers had a pair of interceptions, yielded only 63 yards rushing in the first half, and held the Spartans to less than 200 yards overall.
After honoring homecoming winners at halftime, the Tigers extended their momentum into the second half.
Honea ran for 14 yards. He completed a 14-yard pass to Huerta, before a pass was dropped. Then, came the big play, a 43-yard lob down the right sideline for Wilson who took it to the house and a convincing 21-0 lead.
Wilson had been held without a catch in the first half, but he’d been patiently waiting.
“We decided to air it out in the second half,” Litten said. “We feel we can move the ball.”
“The offense we run,” said the first-year coach, “Takes a while to run.”
“The offensive line is coming along.”
The offensive production can be reflected in the last five weeks. Outside of their loss to power house Salpointe, the Tigers have scored 136 points in their last four games.
Honea ran two yards for a touchdown in the third to make it 28-7.
This Friday, the Tigers will host Amphi at 7p.m.