Flagstaff football first-year head coach Todd Hanley raved about his defense's performance so far this season despite the team's overall struggles.
Well, Hanley was proven right when his defense shut out the No. 26 Bradshaw Mountain Bears in a 20-0 win in the Walkup Skydome that saw the Eagles' three-game losing skid come to an end Friday night. The No. 34-ranked Eagles improved to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the 4A Conference's Grand Canyon Region while the Bears fell to 3-4 overall and 1-2.
The last time the Bears were held scoreless was 2012, and the last time the Eagles took them down was in 2017.
"Coach (Sean) Manning and the defensive staff they have a plan every week and do a great job every week," Hanley said. "It's been the offense that's faltered lately. We told those guys to go out and win this game and that's what they did. ...I think we just finally played a really good second half.”
Two-way star Luis Jaramillo ran for a season-high 175 rushing yards on 21 carries, finding the end zone once. Jaramillo added six tackles and one for a loss as part of Flagstaff's dominance on the defensive side of the ball. Flagstaff held Bradshaw to 37 passing yards and 146 rushing yards all night.
"It's a great win for the whole team," Jaramillo said. "It was a team effort to get this win and get the ball rolling. We were mentally and physically ready today."
Bradshaw starting quarterback Josh Grant left the game with an injury at halftime. He struggled in the first half, going just 2-of-11 passing with one interception and running for 23 yards. He was replaced by Moises Hernandez, who didn't fare much better against the Eagles while going for 42 rushing yards and completing 3 of 10 passing attempts.
The Eagles forced the Bears to punt three times in the first quarter, but couldn't capitalize until the start of the second. On the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, Eagles quarterback Joe Weidinger found Ryan Tagle for a 25-yard touchdown. Tagle blew past his man on a double move to give the Eagles an early 6-0 lead.
The scoring didn't pick up for Flagstaff the rest of the first half, as the Eagles had a chance to score at the Bears 2-yard line, but Weidinger threw an interception on a third-down pass attempt.
Flagstaff nearly forced a safety two drives later, but settled for a punt and a 6-0 halftime lead.
You have free articles remaining.
The second half was a similar pace as the first, with Bradshaw struggling to get into Flagstaff territory as the Eagles defense kept stuffing runs and third-down chances. The defense sealed the win after stopping Bradshaw on a fourth-down attempt near midfield around the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
The Eagles nearly drained out the clock until Jaramillo scored with under 30 seconds left in the game to add some insurance.
Hanley said his team ran a slightly different offense against the Bears, going with a ground-game attack as opposed to the spread scheme they used for much of this season.
Weidinger threw just eight passes, completing five for 75 yards. Although he did throw a pair of interceptions, the offense moved the ball well.
The methodical change worked, with strong games across the backfield. Stephen Canizales had nine carries for 20 yards and Colby Hollaway scored off a sweep from two yards out to push the Eagles to a 13-0 lead in the third quarter.
“You could see Luis was feeling it," Hanley said. "I went home last weekend, looked in the mirror and threatened to fire myself as the offensive coordinator if we didn't get it done.”
Hanley praised the Eagles offensive line as well, despite a rough start with three holding calls in the first few minutes of the game.
"They played an almost flawless game," Hanley said. "They had like three holdings in the first few minutes then after that it was almost flawless.”
The Eagles will be in Kingman next week against the No. 19 Lee Williams Volunteers, who were on a bye Friday night after beating Mingus Union a week ago.