Broadway High School’s Tyler Williams (left) and Philip Mugrage attempt to bring down Fort Defiance junior Grant Elmore on Friday. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)
FORT DEFIANCE — Friday night’s game plan for both Fort Defiance and Broadway was to establish the run game. It was apparent why.
Fort Defiance senior running back Evan Stickley rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown and returned an interception for another touchdown to help lead the Indians (4-4) to a 27-14 victory over the Gobblers on the team’s Homecoming game.
The Indians’ defense limited Broadway (3-4) to just 225 yards of offense and forced six turnovers — including four interceptions — to overcome some of their own shortcomings on the offensive side of the ball.
“It’s nice when you win the turnover battle,” FDHS coach Dan Rolfe said. “Because if you win the turnover battle, you are going to win most high school football games.”
Fort Defiance, which only had two turnovers, jumped out to an early lead following two BHS turnovers.
Quarterback Aaron Eppard put the Indians on the board first with a one-yard keeper. After a Broadway fumble, Stickley wowed the home crowd with a 28-yard touchdown run. It was a play in which he used a nifty spin move to elude a would-be tackler.
“It was slow motion,” Stickley said. “I saw him coming from my right so I spun to my left. Luckily the blocks were there.”
Trailing 13-0, the Gobblers got on the board after fullback Patrick Smith ran 29 yards to the Fort Defiance 1-yard line on 4th and 2. Smith punched it in on the next play. Down just six at the half, the third quarter was not kind to the Gobblers.
After another Eppard touchdown run to increase the margin to 19-7, Stickley intercepted BHS quarterback Kirk Rygol on the ensuing possession and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to all but seal Broadway’s fate.
“Our defense played well,” BHS coach Brad Lutz said. “Our defense did a great job of eliminating the big plays out of [Stickley]. Our offense just put us in some bad spots. We let some drives get away from us and we played from behind the sticks.”
Broadway’s defense did play well. It limited the Indians to just 249 total yards, with only 43 coming through the air. The Gobblers’ offense just couldn’t get going. At one point in the game, they had plays of 2nd and 47 and 3rd and 46.
The game had big postseason implications, but Rolfe refused to let his team get caught up in the hoopla.
“We’re not even thinking about the postseason right now, Rolfe said. “It’s an ends to the means. We are focused in on one game at a time.”
Broadway 0 7 0 7 – 14
Fort Defiance 7 6 14 0 – 27
FD- Eppard 1 run (Oliver kick) 1:56
FD- Stickley 28 run (kick failed) 9:56
B- Smith 1 run (Uribe kick) 6:51
FD- Eppard 6 run (run failed) 2:16
FD- Stickely 48 int return (run good) :09
B- Smith 2 run (Uribe kick) 9:14
First Downs 10 11
Rushes-Yards 29-169 51-206
Passing Yards 56 43
Total Yards 225 249
Comp-Att-Int 4-11-4 2-4-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Punts 2-33.5 2-35
Penalties-Yards 5-51 5-40
RUSHING- Broadway: Delawder 11-63, Yost 7-37, Williams 2-33, P. Smith 2-31, Rygol 3-7, R. Smith 5-5, Team 1-(-7). Fort: Stickley 16-84, Ruiz-Haynes 15-46, Eppard 11-44, Jones 5-17, Houff 2-11, Campbell 1-4, Rossi 1-0.
PASSING- Broadway: Rygol 4-11-56-4. Fort: Eppard 2-4-43-1.
RECEIVING- Broadway: Yost 1-38, Mugrage 1-12, Martin 1-8, R. Smith 1-(-2). Fort: Lackey 1-33, Carper 1-10.