The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks handed Canyon Del Oro High School their first regular-season loss in two years Friday night, winning the inner-district rivalry 28-7.

The two Oro Valley teams went head-to-head in the 2011 season opener at CDO stadium. The Nighthawks’ ground game led by quarterback Tyler Williams and tailback Mitch Fischer ran over the Dorados’ defense.

Williams, who scored three touchdowns, said the Nighthawks have been preparing for the meeting since before school ended last year. “Hard work paid off,” he said. “This offense had the mentality that we were going to run the ball every play. I have to hand it to the offensive line. They played a great game. They opened a hole on every play.”

Both teams struggled on offense through the first half, but the Nighthawks picked up the pace after halftime. With the game tied at 7 at halftime, the Nighthawks took control in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points.

CDO’s offense struggled to find a rhythm, and the defense could not stop Williams and Fischer in the second half.

Nighthawks’ coach Matt Johnson credited the team’s offensive coordinator for creating the game plan. “The offensive coordinator spent endless hours on the game plan, and the kids really executed it,” said Johnson.

Realistically, Johnson said this game came down to pride, but in the end both teams want a state championship, and he wouldn’t be surprised if they meet again later in the season. Prior to Friday night’s victory, the Nighthawks lost to CDO two years in a row.

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