Cienega High School works on the two-minute drill every Wednesday at the end of practice.
Thursday, the hard work paid off.
The Bobcats drove 79 yards in the final two minutes to beat Catalina Foothills at home 13-10. The win was a relief for Cienega, which opened the season 0-2 for the first time in program history.
“The offensive line was amazing,” junior quarterback Adriell Alvarado said after the win. “They were quick to the line and gave me plenty of time to throw the ball.”
Cienega (1-2) had played well in its previous two games but couldn’t stop opposing offenses in the fourth quarter. That changed against the Falcons; the Bobcats’ defense kept the team in the game.
And in the fourth quarter, the offense won it.
Alvarado completed 17 of 24 passes for 172 yards. On the final drive, he went 5 for 6 for 56 yards. He won the game with his legs; his 3-yard touchdown run with 48 seconds left won the game.
“The two-minute drill is hard,” Cienega head coach Nemar Hassey said. “You got to play fast, and we were losing guys early in the game, and we have a lot of guys that go both ways so I was very proud of those boys today.”
The Bobcats defense held Catalina Foothills (2-1) to a field goal in the first half, the only scoring by either team.
Falcons quarterback Rhett Rodriguez finished the game throwing for 126 yards on 11 of 17 passing, most of which came in the second half. Rodriguez, the son of UA coach Rich Rodriguez, is starting as a freshman under first-year coach Jeff Scurran.
Scurran, a former coach at Sabino and Santa Rita, “turned that program around so fast (that) they’ll be a good team to watch the rest of the year,” Hassey said.
Bobcats running back Joseph Matthews gained 46 yards on 12 carries. Mathews scored Cienega’s first touchdown with a 2-yard run up the middle with just over a minute left in the third quarter. Cienega missed the extra point, making it a 6-3 lead.
Catalina Foothills struck two drives later on a 42-yard bubble screen from Rodriguez to senior Tommy Ciaccio. The touchdown gave the Falcons a 10-6 lead, one it would hold until Alvarado took the field to manage what the team practices every Wednesday.
“This win should give us a lot of momentum,” Alvarado said. “But all I know is we have (Canyon del Oro) next, and we’ll be ready.”