The quarterback situation for No. 5 ranked Cactus football was chaos last week.
Cactus lost its starting quarterback, Mahal Lee, to an injury and inserted Connor Cordts to replace him. Later, Cordts suffered a season-ending leg injury.
Third-string quarterback Jordan Ollarsaba got the start against Cactus Shadows on Friday night, but it didn’t matter who was under center.
Senior running back Damaria Norris stole the show, carrying Cactus to a 35-21 win over Cactus Shadows.
Norris scored two touchdowns in a fast-paced first quarter, busting through every hole left open by Cactus Shadows. He added another score in the second quarter.
Cactus Shadow’s bright spot in the first half was a Matt Kuhlmann tackle that resulted in a fumble. Senior linebacker Mason Russo recovered the ball and took it into the end zone.
By halftime, though, Cactus held a 21-7 lead.
In the third quarter, Cactus Shadows pulled into its bag of tricks with a double reverse, in which quarterback Andrew Young flung the ball downfield to Michael Marchica for a 50-yard touchdown.
But that’s all the Falcons could muster against Cactus’ stout defense.
Norris added two more rushing touchdowns in the second half, having scored every Cactus touchdown of the night.
Despite the five touchdowns, Norris finished with three fumbles. After the game, Norris said he would be holding onto the ball much tighter next week.
Cactus quarterback completed five of eight passes for 154 yards.
Cactus RB Damaria Norris: Norris was involved in almost every play in some kind of capacity. Whether it was operating out of any formation or running all over the Falcons defense, he was the biggest reason the Cobras got the victory.
Cactus defense: Cactus Shadows quarterback Andrew Young and sophomore backup Cole Cucitrone had such a hard time developing any level of consistency right from the start. That was because of Cactus’ ability to contain them. Rylee Williams, Makhi Washington and Jared Easton all finished with interceptions.
Cactus senior running back Damaria Norris speaks with Weston DeWitt of AZCentral after he scored all the points in his teams’ 35-21 victory over Cactus Shadows
Weston DeWitt/Special to azcentral sports
Norris: For a team that was down to its third-string quarterback, Norris was running plays out of the I, shotgun and wildcat formations. In addition to his rushing, he also finished with 115 receiving yards.
Quotes of the game
Norris on what attributed to his success: “To be honest, it was a perfect example of why we need the offensive line. I think, me personally, I played average. I did what I needed to do but it was an average game for me.”
Norris on what they can do better next week: “I just think we got tired tonight. And I think we need for endurance on the field. I know coach has stuff up his sleeve that we are going to be changing and tweaking stuff.”
Cactus head coach Larry Fetkenhier on Norris’ performance: “For one week of preparation, I think he did a really nice job of running it tonight. But we got to clean stuff up. But our defense played well, I was really impressed with our defense.”
Stat of the game
Out of 64 plays that Cactus ran on Friday night, Norris was involved in 42 of those plays (66%).
Cactus Shadows will head back home and take on Moon Valley next Friday. As for Cactus, it will look to ride the winning momentum into next week as its hits the road to take on St. Mary’s in Phoenix.