WINSLOW — Despite entering Friday’s game in Winslow with a 4-0 record and winning by an average of 54 points, Show Low coach Carlo Hernandez was not sure what to make of his team.

After winning 28-13, the Cougars not only improved to 5-0, they thereby mollified the anxiety their first-year coach was having early this season.

Hernandez was doubly pleased the victory came in a hard-fought contest on the road rather than with another whitewashing of an inferior opponent.

“It’s good for our kids to be battle tested going in to the rest of the season,” Hernandez said. “Now we know what type of team we can be. The first four games we weren’t sure what we were. The points were up there but we still wren’t sure what type of team we were. Again, it wasn’t a pretty victory, but we’ll take the victory.”

The Bulldogs (3-1) cut the deficit to 20-13 with 2 minutes 5 seconds on the fourth quarter clock on a 51-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jace Lyons to Chris Arellano on a bit of a fluke play down the left sideline.

“The ball was tipped; it was under thrown. Our guys overran it,” Hernandez said. “It was just one of those plays. We tipped it and it bounced in their favor. Happenstance play. Those plays happen in football. You bounce up and get ready to go again.”

The Cougars regained a two-score lead about a minute later when running back Bryson Ryan scampered 23 yards through the defense’s left side at 1:11. A two-point conversion made the score 28-13, and Winslow could advance no farther than their 48-yard line on five plays in its final possession.

Whereas in the first three quarters the Cougars’ offense was plagued by three turnovers (a fumble return for a Winslow touchdown and two interceptions of quarterback Colten Yeager,) the fourth quarter saw a more focused effort on ball control, running the clock down and playing mistake-free. Hernandez complimented the Cougars’ linemen for dominating that phase of the game.

“That was a challenge to our line,” he said. “We challenged our line how this game was going to go on at that point. Winslow did a good job of defending our pass so we knew we were going to have to run at them, so I just said to our line, ‘gentlemen, this is on you now.’ It’s a testament to our conditioning, our work ethic that we put these kids through throughout the week. We continued to stay strong when at times it looked like they were a little gassed. Those are things we have to utilize as the season goes on, using our conditioning. That’s what it came down to, me testing the line, and they passed. They did a great job there at the end.”

The Cougars took a 6-0 lead on Yeager’s 17-yard scoring pass to tight end Andre Henderson at 4:07 of the first quarter. They recovered an onsides kickoff, but the Bulldogs tied the game on a 60-yard fumble return by Arellano.

Running back Ryan Kishbaugh gave Show Low a 12-6 lead with a 21-yard burst at 10:57 of the second quarter, and Yeager scored on a 14-yard keeper at 2:20 of the fourth for a 20-6 lead.

“It’s a good test to see that we had to play four quarters. It’s good to play four quarters getting in to the meat and potatoes of our season,” Hernandez said.

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