Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 | 12:46 a.m.
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Foothill learned a valuable lesson Thursday night: Don’t let Palo Verde running back Chappell Thomas get to the edges.
If Thomas sees open field, he’s gone. He rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns on only three carries to lead the Panthers to a 49-0 victory at home against the Falcons.
“I just turned on the boosters,” Thomas, a senior, said. “That’s what I do, just full steam ahead.”
Thomas scored on a 71-yard touchdown run on Palo Verde’s third play from scrimmage to make the score 7-0.
He opened the second quarter with a 27-yard rumble that set up another touchdown and had a 45-yard rush to make the score 35-0 seven minutes before halftime.
Senior running back Tyrone Blake added seven carries for 95 yards and three touchdowns for Palo Verde. As a team, the Panthers rushed for 327 yards on 38 carries.
“They kind of gave us some stuff on the perimeter and we took advantage of it,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said.
It was the kind of performance Rost has come to expect from his team, which has out-scored opponents 136-7 in three games this season. Following the same script as the first two games, the Panthers defense dominated.
Foothill gained two first downs on its first drive of the night, one coming on a 36-yard fake punt pass. The Falcons did not record another first down until the Panthers’ starters were resting on the sidelines late in the third quarter.
“It’s a scrappy defense,” Rost said. “We have four starters back from last year and they are playing really well.”
The defense scored one of Palo Verde’s touchdowns when senior defensive back Ernest Hall scooped up a Foothill fumble in the first quarter and returned it 24 yards.
Palo Verde’s special teams joined the party, too.
Late in the third quarter, senior Maurice Maxwell blocked a Foothill punt to give Palo Verde the ball inside the red zone.
That’s when Rost pulled his starters and emptied the bench.
“We played a team that’s very fast and if you don’t play very disciplined and don’t tackle well, they’re going to make big plays and score against you,” Foothill coach Marty Redmond said.
Foothill molded its game plan around junior running back Connor Afoa, who had 13 carries for 42 yards. The lone highlight of the night for the Falcons came in the second quarter when Afoa broke loose for a 73-yard kick return.
Foothill could not translate the strong field position into points. The night simply belonged to Palo Verde — and Thomas.
“This is my first game like this,” Thomas said. “I just got the ball and do what I do, come out here and run hard.”