University High rolled into its Friday night showdown at Dunham ranked No. 3 in the state in Class 2A. The game was billed as a matchup of the two top teams in District 7-2A, with both teams undefeated in the league at 2-0.
However, the showdown failed to materialize as the Cubs scored early and took advantage of every opportunity to down the Tigers 52-28.
The game started off as a scoring festival.
“In the first quarter we got into a track meet,” said Dunham coach Guy Mistretta. “We can’t do that with a team like them.”
University (8-0, 3-0 in 7-2A) scored on its first drive of the game, taking the opening kickoff 63 yards on seven plays. Cubs coach Chad Mahaffey showed confidence in his offense, when they went for it on fourth-and-9 at the Dunham 33-yard line. On the play, quarterback Kyle Crifasi hooked up with Zach Aguilar for a touchdown.
Dunham (4-4, 2-1) failed to get anything going on its opening drive, and the Cubs took advantage. On fourth-and-6 from their own 27, the Tigers lined up to punt, but University’s Chisa Egbelu blocked the punt, scooped it up at the 10-yard line and walked in for the score. Christian Goran’s extra point made it 13-0 with more than eight minutes left if the first quarter.
With the way the highly ranked, highly touted U-High squad came out, it could have been the knockout punch for Dunham. But the Tigers proved to be a feisty bunch and answered with a six-play, 54-yard drive that ended when Jordan Lange bulled in from 1 yard out. The play was set up by a 48-yard pass from Grant Messer to Austin Miller on third-and-13.
University answered 40 seconds later with a 9-yard TD run by Nick Brossette.
Dunham responded with a nine-play, 78-yard drive that ended when Messer hit Justin Caballero for a 1-yard TD pass. The extra point made it 20-14 for University.
That’s when things turned bad for Dunham. A bad snap on a punt gave University good field position and momentum. The Cubs executed, and on the first play after the turnover on downs, Nik Kragthorpe hit Manny Miles on a 22 yard-pass for a TD. Later in the second quarter, D’vante Dotson intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards to the Dunham 38. Six plays later, Crifasi hooked up with Tristan Cooper on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Garon’s extra point made the lead 33-14.
University’s Hunter Bankston opened the scoring in the second half when he picked off a pass and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown for a 40-14 lead.
“The big plays were great,” Mahaffey said. “It kept our defense on the field a lot, but we’re not going to complain about a quick six.”
“You can’t make mistakes against a team as talented as that,” Mistretta said. “The interception and the blocked punts are magnified against a team like that, but we fought. We played hard.”
Dunham was led by Messer, who completed 11 of 24 passes for 231 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Harrison Domingue ran for 52 yards on 17 carries. Austin Miller had 158 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
University was led by freshman running back Nick Brossette, who had 118 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Crifasi completed eight of 11 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He added 66 yards rushing.