Four-year starter Mya Boykin turned in a stellar defensive effort on Friday as Palo Verde’s flag football team held off visiting Arbor View 14-7 in the Class 4A Mountain Region semifinals.
“She stepped up this year and has really been a leader on offense and defense,” Palo Verde coach Rick Eurich said of Boykin. “She’s accepted that role and kind of taken off with it.”
The Panthers (13-5), the regional runners-up the last three seasons, will meet Bonanza (16-9) at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Green Valley for the Mountain Region title.
Palo Verde quarterback Jordan Schnitz completed 6 of 15 passes for 79 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Emily Allen, and Madison Brown paced the rushing game with 73 yards. Angelie Buonto had 19 yards and a touchdown on seven carries for the Panthers.
But it was Boykin’s all-around game that keyed Palo Verde throughout the game, whether it was timely rushes or receptions on offense, or a couple of tackles for loss on defense.
“We studied there plays, looked at film and we just knew what they were gonna do before they did it,” Boykin said. “It was so important at the end of the game, both sides are tired, but we just had to want it more. Just be more aggressive and just do our job.”
Palo Verde struck first, using an 11-play drive which Boykin kept alive with a 6-yard rush on third-and-four, and culminated with Schnitz’s TD strike to Allen on a fourth-and-goal from the 21-yard-line.
After stopping Arbor View on three plays — spearheaded by a Boykin sack — Brown broke free for a 44-yard run into the red zone, and Buonto cleaned things up with a 5-yard TD scamper to put the Panthers up 14-0.
“My coach told me just run up the middle, follow your blockers and just do what I say, and if you listen to your coach and do what he says it always works out,” Brown said. “I saw the open hole and I just took it. My blockers were definitely helping me out a ton. If they wouldn’t have made that hole, I wouldn’t have ever gotten it.”
The Aggies (6-15) got on the board in the third quarter behind the inspired play of Tiana Beavers, who produced 70 of her 90 offensive yards in the second half. Beavers hauled in a 30-yard TD reception with 55 seconds left in the third quarter to close the gap to one touchdown.
Beavers intercepted Schnitz with 11:59 left in the game to keep momentum on Arbor View’s side, but the biting wind and the Panthers’ defense was too stringent for the Aggies to capitalize on their final two drives. Arbor View’s last drive ended with Schnitz intercepting Aggies quarterback Lea Angione.
Bonanza 14, Shadow Ridge 12 — At Bonanza, Cindylou Rasiang threw for 184 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score to lead the Bengals by the Mustangs in the other semifinal.
Rasiang completed 14 of 26 passes, including a TD pass to Ashley Vasquez. Rasiang also rushed for 81 yards on 11 carries, and teammate Charlene Beck ran for 107 yards on 19 carries for Bonanza.
Mikayla Brown completed 8 of 20 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns for Shadow Ridge (12-10).