Dominates previously unbeaten Highland, 56-6.
Richard Obert/azcentral sports
Gilbert Perry is ranked No. 1 for the first time in its history.
Now it wants to stay there.
It did a good job of showing it deserves the billing Friday night in a 56-6 rout of visiting Gilbert Highland, which was the only other unbeaten 6A football team entering the game.
An overflow crowd of about 5,000 and a huge throng of media watched under-recruited senior quarterback Brock Purdy pick apart a great defense with his arm and legs and tailback Kenny Fultz rush for four second-half touchdowns.
Perry (6-0) has next week off ahead of its game against defending state champion Chandler in two weeks.
Are the Pumas ready for that next step?
“I don’t want to say anything now, but I like the way we’re playing,” Purdy said.
Perry looked equipped to go the distance with a much-improved defense, led by a fast front four that was in Highland’s backfield most of Friday night.
“The defense doesn’t surprise me,” Perry coach Preston Jones said. “They’re solid, underrated. The offense took a while to get going. But they have a good defense, so there’s a reason it took us a while.”
QB Brock Purdy, arguably the state’s Player of the Year in the season’s first half, was magnificent, except for an interception in the first quarter.
Purdy was 15-of-19 passing for 206 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He ran for 115 yards, 73 in the third quarter, when he set up the first of Fultz’s four TD runs. Purdy finished with 278 passing yards.
–Fultz scored on runs of 2, 9, 2 and 47 yards in the second half against a worn-out Highland defense.
–Wide receiver Colby Dickie was one of three different receivers to catch TD passes in the first half, when he had eight catches for 93 yards.
–Defensive end Harley Scott had successive sacks and Jobin Sweat forced a fumble on a sack, as Perry had 11 sacks against Highland quarterback Kaleb Herbert.
Highland junior Austin McNamara showed why he is ranked the No. 4 kicker in the nation in the 2019 class, splitting the uprights with great distance to spare on a 42-yard field goal that cut it to 7-6 in the second quarter.
“Brock had it all going in the first half, and in the second half the line helped us out,” Fultz said. “We’re making statements everywhere.”
“From last year to this year, we really improved on being together as a team, being one,” linebacker Cutter Hatch said.
Stat of the game
With two minutes left in the half, Herbert’s deep pass was intercepted by Keegan Grimes at the Perry 3. Purdy marched the Pumas 97 yards in eight plays with Purdy completing seven passes for all 97 yards and capping it with a 9-yard pass to Clayton Schmitz for a 21-6 lead with 37 seconds left.
Perry is off next week, before playing Chandler in two weeks. Highland (5-1) plays Phoenix Mountain Pointe on Oct. 6 with a bye next week.