Chandler Capitalizes on Queen Creek’s Late Mistakes

3 weeks ago Andrew Luberda 0

Sometimes final scores, like objects in the car mirror, are closer than they appear.

Such was the case Friday night in Queen Creek’s 49-21 road loss to two-time defending 6A champion Chandler.

The Wolves scored 21 points off three-straight Bulldogs’ turnovers during a two-and-a-half-minute span more than midway through the fourth quarter, blowing open a what was close game up to that point.

“I felt like our kids battled their (tails) off,” Queen Creek Travis Schureman said after the game. “We didn’t play particularly well (at the start). We have a lot work to do. We have to fix some things and (we) can’t turn the ball over, but when you’re down and trying to make plays things like that are going to happen.”

The Bulldogs trailed 21 – 7 with about three minutes remaining in the first half when Devin Larsen hit senior receiver Alec Prochazka down the center of the field for a 71-yard touchdown pass. Kicker Zane Kaupe’s PAT reduced the Wolves’ lead to seven points.

Queen Creek’s defense, which was up to the challenge all night, grabbed some momentum heading into halftime, as senior defensive back Jett Koester intercepted Wolves’ quarterback Jacob Conover on the final play of the half.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ couldn’t carryover the momentum to the second half.

After Chandler increased its lead to 28 – 14 on the opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs committed four turnovers on their final five possessions, including the three in the fourth quarter that made the game look far less competitive than it truly was.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Dylan Borja scores the tying TD during the first quarter of Friday’s game. (Caitlyn Craig)

Confidence builder: Queen Creek, which received the opening kickoff, allowed a sack and followed it with a false start penalty before going three-and-out. Chandler, working with a short field,capped of a 42-yard drive with a DeCarlos Brooks touchdown run to grab a 7 – 0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

The Bulldogs immediately answered, driving 80 yards for the tying score. Larsen connected with senior receiver Ryan Dobbs for 45 yards to get into Wolves territory and finished the drive off with a 16-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Dylan Borja, who also ran for a touchdown later in the game.

Uncle Mo has left the building: Senior Jett Koester’s interception on the final play of the half followed what could have been a disaster on the Bulldogs’ final possession of the first half.

The Bulldogs, in punt formation in their own territory with less than 30 seconds remaining, did not execute a punt snap, allowing the Wolves to take over with 6.5 seconds left at Queen Creek’s 30. Any momentum the Bulldogs had following Prochazka’s 71-yard touchdown reception, Koester’s pick, and only a seven-point deficit at halftime disappeared before the start of the third quarter.

Devin Larsen (12) looks for open receiver. (Caitlyn Craig)

Turnovers: Larsen was intercepted near the end of the third quarter, but the Bulldogs’ defense, which was up to the challenge all night despite being forced to repeatedly defend a short field, forced a punt following senior Danny Marshall’s pass deflection on a third-and-long.

The Wolves, however cashed in the next three, beginning with a score after a questionable fumble call that looked more like an incompletion.

Here are the three fourth-quarter turnovers that sealed Queen Creek’s fate:

4Q, 5:54 – (QC fumble) Conover 52-yard TD pass to Gunner Maldonado (35 – 14).

4Q, 5:27 – (QC INT) Jaheim Brown-Taylor 1-yard TD run (42 – 14).

4Q, 3:30 – (QC INT) Jaheim Brown-Taylor 34-yard TD run (49 – 14).

 

 

THREE STARS

No. 3 – Dylan Borja. 10 rushes for 44 yards and a TD. Four receptions for 35 yards and a TD.

No. 2 – Zane Lalama. 23 tackles, 1 TFL, and a sack.

No. 1 – Alec Prochazka. 3 receptions for 91 yards and a TD.

HE SAID IT

“If we want to compete in 6A, we can’t use that as an excuse.” – Schureman, when asked if the Bulldogs’ inferior depth compared to Chandler’s was a factor in the outcome.

UP NEXT

Queen Creek hits the road for the second-straight week, traveling to Laveen to take on Cesar Chavez, which lost its home opener to Red Mountain last week, 34 – 7.

“We’ve got that taste in our mouth of what it’s like to lose,” Schureman said. “We’ll go to work (Saturday) morning and get after it, fix some things, and see if we can do enough to beat (Cesar) Chavez.”