Poston Butte scores late, rallies to edge Coconino football in Flagstaff at Cromer Stadium

ERIC NEWMAN Sun Sports Editor

The Coconino Panthers football team could not hold on late and Poston Butte scored a go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion to steal a 29-28 victory at Cromer Stadium Friday.

Final: Poston Butte comes back late and defeats Coconino 29-28 in Flagstaff pic.twitter.com/iBZbQdufZs

— Eric Newman (@enewmanwrites) September 24, 2022

The Panthers (1-2) led 21-0 late in the second quarter and dominated with their rushing attack, finishing with 325 yards on the ground. They also forced three turnovers on defense — an interception and two fumbles — but could not keep the visiting Broncos out of the end zone in the second half.

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Bridger French (2) tackles Poston Butte’s running back during his team’s home game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Ryker Patten (15) takes down Poston Butte’s wide receiver during a game at Cromer Stadium Friday.

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Josemiguel Villanueva (14) kicks off during a game against the Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Cooper French (4) runs the ball toward the end zone during the a game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Bridger French (2) evades a defender during a game against the Poston Butte Broncos at Cromer Stadium Friday.

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Jacob Clouse (3) runs the ball during a game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Cooper French (4) runs the ball in for a touchdown during his team’s home game against the Poston Butte Broncos at Cromer Stadium Friday in Flagstaff.



CHS Football vs Poston Butte

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Bridger French (2) tackles Poston Butte’s running back during his team’s home game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.



CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Ryker Patten (15) takes down Poston Butte’s wide receiver during a game at Cromer Stadium Friday.



CHS Football vs Poston Butte

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Josemiguel Villanueva (14) kicks off during a game against the Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.



CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Cooper French (4) runs the ball toward the end zone during the a game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.



CHS Football vs Poston Butte

CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Bridger French (2) evades a defender during a game against the Poston Butte Broncos at Cromer Stadium Friday.



CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Jacob Clouse (3) runs the ball during a game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.



CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Cooper French (4) runs the ball in for a touchdown during his team’s home game against the Poston Butte Broncos at Cromer Stadium Friday in Flagstaff.

“We controlled the possession; it was exactly our game plan. We’ve just got to learn how to finish at the end,” Panthers coach Mike Lapsley said.

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Leading 28-21 with 7:59 remaining in the game, Coconino fumbled the ball away to the 4A Conference state tournament runner-up Broncos, providing them favorable field position. Poston Butte capitalized with a touchdown reception by senior Connor Lopez.

Lopez was virtually unstoppable. The tight end finished with 200 receiving yards and three touchdowns — including the go-ahead score with 4:55 remaining and an 80-yard score in the dying seconds of the first half.

Following the touchdown, the Broncos converted on a two-point conversion pass to take a one-point lead.

Poston Butte takes a 29-28 lead on a successful conversion4:55 left in the game pic.twitter.com/b1AanQSqem

— Eric Newman (@enewmanwrites) September 24, 2022

Coconino moved the ball some in response, but could not convert a fourth-down attempt with 1:35 left in the game. Poston Butte forced a turnover on downs and knelt out the clock from there.

The final drive’s stalling and a couple of key turnovers were the rare rough spots on an otherwise solid offensive night for the Panthers. Senior running back Cooper French finished the game with 258 rushing yards and three trips into the end zone. His brother, junior Bridger French, added a rushing score.



CHS Football Versus Poston Butte

Coconino’s Cooper French (4) runs the ball toward the end zone during the a game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.


Rachel Gibbons, Arizona Daily Sun

“It’s tough to game plan for the other team, for sure, and we showed it today when they couldn’t really figure it out,” Cooper French said.

The Panthers defense was solid at first, too. On each of Poston Butte’s first three drives, Coconino forced turnovers and capitalized on the mistakes with points on the board.

“It was written on the board: Stop the run and turnovers would win us the game,” said junior Prayer Young-Blackgoat, who recovered one of the two fumbles and was effective in limiting Poston Butte on the ground.

Coconino ran out to a three-score lead and looked like it would go into halftime up 21 points.

Cooper French in for his second TD of the day on this long run. Panthers lead 21-0 8:29 2Q #TeamAZV pic.twitter.com/IWdiWyJgde

— Eric Newman (@enewmanwrites) September 24, 2022

However, Lopez opened the scoring for the Broncos with the 80-yard touchdown reception with just 49 seconds to go before the break. The momentum was changed and Poston Butte did enough to hang on.



CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Bridger French (2) tackles Poston Butte’s running back during his team’s home game against Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.


Rachel Gibbons, Arizona Daily Sun

The loss was Coconino’s second consecutive after leading by 21 in the first half. The Panthers were up 21-0 at halftime at Arcadia on Sept. 16 before falling 27-21.

Overall, the Panthers believe they have the talent to hang with and potentially beat any team in the conference. They have shown that early, and now just think they have to keep up a high level late.

“The past game and this game we’ve shut them down the first half and they’ve come back, so it’s really just finishing and keeping our composure throughout the game,” Young-Blackgoat said.

There was definitely some pain for the Coconino players, who believe they let a win slip away from them for the second time this season.

“Respectfully, we should have beat them. We dominated that whole game, and they had maybe a few plays that got us in the end,” Cooper French said.

Coconino will visit Apache Junction next Friday.



CHS Football vs Poston Butte

Coconino’s Josemiguel Villanueva (14) kicks off during a game against the Poston Butte at Cromer Stadium Friday.


Rachel Gibbons, Arizona Daily Sun

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