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Tigers hold off late Miami rally to reclaim the Copper Kettle

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The Globe Tigers held off a late rally from rival Miami and ended the Vandals’ unprecedented run of four straight Copper Kettle wins in Arizona’s second longest football rivalry series with a 12-7 victory at Harbison Field in front of a capacity crowd.

“Our boys showed up and I could tell from the get go that we were more ready, and they worked all week to make it happen,” said Globe head coach Talmage Hansen. “We are getting better…We are going to get Globe back on the map.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Globe started the second quarter in Miami territory and capitalized on Anasco Sanchez’s rushing touchdown with 11:50 left in the half. The Tigers were unsuccessful on the two-point conversion but led 6-0.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster and very hard,” said Sanchez, who returned from an injury suffered against perennial power Pima three weeks prior. “I am thankful every day for my blessings and that my foot healed pretty quick. I give all the glory to God.”

On the ensuing series, Globe’s defense forced Miami into a punt and their offense marched downfield. However, the Tiger offense wasn’t able to capitalize, turning the ball over on downs with  6:51 left in the half, despite being deep in the Miami red zone.

The back-and-forth battle continued. Despite taking over on their own six-yard line, Miami managed to get the ball past midfield into Tiger territory before Globe’s Jaeger Franco came up with a big interception with three minutes remaining.

The wildness of a  Copper Kettle game continued with Globe fumbling the ball two possessions later. Miami’s Jaycob Goss recovered the ball for the Vandals. However, Miami was unable to capitalize and turned the ball over with 34 seconds left in the half.

The Tigers led 6-0 heading into the locker room.

The second half started with both teams punting on their first possessions. Miami failed to convert a fourth-and-one with 6:24 left in the third quarter on their second offensive attempt, this time allowing Globe generous field position.

Starting from the Vandals’ 39-yard line, the Tigers methodically moved the ball up the field. Sanchez advanced Globe to the two-yard line on a quarterback keeper on third down, prompting a Tiger timeout. Following the timeout, Globe’s Gabe Gonzales punched in a two-yard touchdown run for a 12-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

Following the touchdown, Miami’s offense came to life with the passing game. Quarterback Abram Castaneda connected with receivers to revitalize the Vandal attack, overcoming multiple penalties.

Facing third and 11, Castaneda picked up 11 yards on a keeper to nab the first down on Globe’s six-yard line. Starting the fourth quarter, Miami was in prime position to score. The Vandals doomed themselves with a holding penalty at the three-yard line and a bad snap on fourth and goal that resulted in a Miami turnover with 10:43 left in the game.

Despite the setback, the Vandals defense forced the Tigers into a punt with nine minutes left and Castaneda willed Miami back into the game. He connected with Jaykob Armenta for a first down, and a pass intended for Angel Pena was tipped into Armenta’s hands a possession later.

With 8:08 left, Castaneda connected with Armenta on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Gabriel Gatewood added the PAT to bring the Vandals within five points.

The 99th version of the Copper Kettle battle finished with the dramatics expected from a heated rivalry— a Vandal interception that ultimately ended with a turnover, a defensive stand that forced Globe into a punt with 1:43 left in the game, and a would-be Miami touchdown waved off and returned to the Tiger 22-yard line.

Castaneda quickly went to work, connecting with Noah Combs for a nine-yard gain. From the Tiger 13-yard line, he added eight more yards on a keeper, forcing Globe to call a timeout with less than a minute left.

Following the timeout Miami went to Castaneda again for a quarterback keeper on first and goal, but he fumbled and the Tigers recovered with 50 seconds left, then ran out the clock for their 57th rivalry win.

“Globe outplayed us and the better team won tonight,” said Miami head coach Brandon Powell. “They came out from the beginning of the game to the end of the game and outplayed us.” Powell acknowledged that his team’s inability to capitalize in the red zone was a mixture of Globe’s defense and his team’s offensive struggles.

“They got into the red zone but we just matched them play for play and we were ready for what they were bringing,” said Hansen.

A chance at a fifth straight Copper Kettle win was not lost on Miami’s Powell.

“Very disappointing to be honest because we had a good group and it should have been a lot better season, it’s just a disappointing end to the season,” said Powell. “I wish we played with a little more heart and came out and took (Globe) a little more serious, Globe’s not that bad of a team and I tried telling these guys to get a little more serious and a little more focused and we just didn’t do it.”

Miami finished the season 5-5 while the Tigers wrapped up at 4-6. However, with the win, Globe finished 2-3 in 2A Salt Region play while the Vandals were 1-4.

“It was because we were a team that we won this game; they came together and did it as a team,” said Hansen. “(This win) makes the season a success.”