SIERRA VISTA — The Buena High School Colts relied on a stifling defense and a few big plays to overwhelm the No. 11-ranked, region-leading Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks, winning 27-0 Friday night in Sierra Vista.
After a slow first quarter, in which Buena struggled to move the ball offensively, but absolutely smothered the Nighthawks on defense, Buena capitalized on a 59-yard catch and run by running back Tory Walters to the Ironwood Ridge 3-yard line to end the quarter. A penalty on the play by Ironwood Ridge moved the ball to the 1 1/2-yard line, and Buena quarterback Jovoni Borbon punched it in from there on the first play of the second quarter to give the Colts a 7-0 lead, which they would not relinquish.
From there, the Colts’ swarming defense — which saw defensive end Jesse Avina rack up three sacks and Borbon, who also plays in the defensive secondary, score on a 90-yard interception return when the Nighthawks threatened — took over the game. Defensive lineman Damian Brown also stood out with several key plays, including a crucial, drive-ending pass breakup in the first half and a clutch sack with Ironwood Ridge in scoring position in the second half.
The Colts also benefited from big plays on offense by running backs Walters and Isaac Benoit, quarterback Borbon, and wide receivers Keyon Taylor and Kemish Riley. Taylor got open behind the Ironwood Ridge secondary with about 1:30 left in the first half and Borbon hit him in stride for a 54-yard touchdown that put Buena up 14-0.
After that, Buena tacked on a field goal to end the first half and went into the locker room with a commanding 17-0 lead.
Ironwood Ridge, meanwhile, used the halftime break to refocus and try to make adjustments to somehow find a chink in the Buena defense’s armor. The Nighthawks came out in the third quarter and were finally able to move the ball effectively, driving down the field behind star running back Brandon Barrios. He came into the game with more than 1,200 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns through Ironwood Ridge’s first eight games. The Nighthawks reached Buena’s 10-yard line before a penalty knocked them back to the 20, forcing them into a passing situation.
Borbon, though, ended the threat when he jumped the receiver’s route on a quick out and raced down the field for a pick-six, running the score to 24-0 following the successful extra point.
The huge momentum swing seemed to crush any hopes the Nighthawks had of getting back into the game. Buena continued to dominate defensively for the rest of the half and were able to add another field goal to produce the final score of 27-0.
Borbon, who faced pressure nearly every time he dropped back to pass, was effective using his legs to escape the rush and finished with 256 passing yards, bolstered by the two long pass plays.
Taylor led the team in receiving yards with four catches for 98 yards, while Walters and Riley finished with 69 and 44 yards through the air, respectively.
Junior running back Benoit led the Buena rushing attack with nine carries for 56 yards, including a 25-yard scamper to set up a score. Walters, typically the Colts’ top back, was mostly kept in check on the ground and finished with 10 carries for 35 yards.
Barrios was the only bright spot for the Nighthawks’ offense, racking up 108 yards on 20 carries.
The other four players with carries for Ironwood Ridge were blown up by Buena’s defense and ran for -33 yards.
On the night, Buena’s defense allowed only 144 total yards, passing and rushing combined. The three Nighthawks quarterbacks who played were only able to complete 7 of 18 passes for 68 yards and the lone interception of the game.
A large, raucous crowd numbering in the thousands on the cool Sierra Vista Friday night enjoyed the win, which moved the Colts to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the region, moving them ahead of Ironwood, which left with a 5-4 overall record, tied at the top of the region with Buena at 3-1.