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December 7, 2004
McGaha wins state title; reschedules ASU visit
Chris Karpman

Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium Phoenix Moon Valley had one

of the best comeback victories of all-time in a state championship

game. Down 34-6 at halftime to Cactus, the team scored 39

unanswered points and went on to win 46-35. Chris McGaha caught

 two touchdown passes and had a late interception to

seal the victory. He spoke with about the game and

his slightly altered official visit schedule.


Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic
Moon Valley High players celebrate after defeating Cactus High in the 4A State Championship football game at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ


Moon Valley pulls off huge rally to take State


The rain fell as the undefeated Moon Valley Rockets came back from a 28-point first half deficit to win the Class 4A state championship over the Glendale Cactus Cobras.

The Cobras took a commanding 34-6 lead in the first half totaling 197-yards to the Rockets 104.

Moon Valley exploded in the second half scoring 39 unanswered points, including 20 in the third quarter.


But the second half would make the difference as the Rockets offense 278 to 136.

Rocket quarterback Tsar Johnson scored three touchdowns in the second half as a relentless Moon Valley offense Moon Valley totaled 382 yards to Cactus' 253.

Cactus senior Richard Morris rushed for 139-yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Quarterback Jonathan Tobin went 10-31 for 97-yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Moon Valley comeback continued in the fourth quarter as Cactus hit an offensive standstill outscored 39-0 in the second half.

Tsar Johnson scored his third touchdown of the game as Wriston completed another two-point conversion tieing the game 34-34 with 5:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Cactus turned over the ball on their own 12 with four minutes left, setting up a 27-yard yard field goal from senior kicker Mike DeVincinzo as the Rockets took their first lead of the game 37-34.

Cactus was forced to punt on a three and out with three minutes remaining. Moon Valley senior Matt Hain rushed for a 20-yard touchdown putting the game out reach 45-34.

McGaha picked off Tobin with 1:05, as Moon Valley ran out the clock.

Wriston went 14-for-31 for 280 yards, 3 interceptions and five touchdowns.

Cactus dumbfounded by 2nd-half collapse

Chris Traphagan
Special for The Republic
Dec. 5, 2004 12:00 AM

As Moon Valley players celebrated the school's first state title in 22 years and the biggest comeback in state championship history, Glendale Cactus players could only look on in stunned silence, wondering what had just happened.

There weren't a lot of answers for what happened to No. 2 Cactus on Saturday in the Class 4A championship game at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The Cobras simply imploded.

Leading 34-6 at halftime, Cactus (12-2) looked like a lock to win its first state title under coach Larry Fetkenhier, but the second half was a horror show. Four lost fumbles, one interception on offense and 278 yards allowed by the defense. Not to mention the 39 unanswered points Moon Valley (14-0) scored in the 45-34 victory.


"We just lost it," Cactus running back Richard Morris said. "We thought we had it won and didn't come out to play in the second half."

Linebacker LaDarius Howard, the defense's emotional leader, echoed Morris' thoughts.

"We didn't come out fired up in the second half," he said. "I don't know why."

Last year, Cactus suffered a hard-fought 21-13 setback to Tucson Sunnyside in the title game. Saturday's championship defeat was much different.

Cactus did everything right in the first half. Morris racked up 117 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jonathan Tobin completed clutch pass after clutch pass.

And the defense put Moon Valley's high-octane offense in the freezer, allowing only 104 total yards and forcing three turnovers.

The second half was a disaster. Morris couldn't find any running room and gained only 23 yards on eight carries. Tobin overthrew open receivers, or had well-thrown balls dropped, on his way to a 3-for-13 performance in the second half with one interception.

And the defense that played so well in the first half had no answers in the second, as Moon Valley quarterback Brian Wriston threw for touchdowns on four of his six completions.

Fetkenhier, 0-4 in state championship games, said the difference between the second half and the first was simple.

"It was the turnovers," he said. "I'm not sure how many we had exactly, but you can't give a school like that any opportunities.

"Hat's off to those guys. They battled back from being down like that, and they're the state champions."

Tobin, who a week earlier said his dream since his freshman year had been to lead Cactus to a title, spent last year's title game on the sideline.

He said Saturday's loss would be much harder to deal with.

"There is no comparison," he said. "You just can't do it."