Queen Creek Defense Answers Challenge in Win

1 month ago Andrew Luberda 0

Challenge accepted.

Queen Creek’s defense scored a pair of touchdowns and the starting unit limited Desert Ridge to a lone touchdown in a 39 – 14 victory last Friday night in east Mesa. The win improved the fourth-ranked Bulldogs’ record to 7 – 1, including a perfect 3 – 0 in the 6A Central Region, where they sit atop the standings.

“We want the team to get better on defense,” Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman told CountyLinePreps.com after the game. “We’re going to need that if we’re going to make a run [in the playoffs]. We scored two touchdowns (Friday night) [on defense] and it was great to see.”

Queen Creek’s Joshua Dominquez (52) celebrates his first quarter touchdown during action Friday, October 5, 2018 in Mesa, AZ. (Corey Cross).

The Queen Creek defensive unit was dissatisfied with its performance over a week ago despite the Bulldogs’ 45 – 24 win against visiting Corona del Sol. The Bulldogs’ coaches also weren’t thrilled with the defense that typically has been a superb compliment to the high-scoring offense this season, so they challenged the unit in advance of Friday’s game.

“The challenge was not to let them score,” said senior defensive lineman Josh Dominguez, whose first-quarter fumble recovery for a touchdown accounted for the only points during the first 23-plus minutes of the first half.

“We came out (against Corona del Sol) a little sluggish,” said junior linebacker Zane Lalama, who entered Friday’s game with a team-high 101 tackles. “We wanted to come out (Friday night) and show that game was a fluke.”

Both offenses were MIA for most of the first half before Queen Creek’s final drive, when senior quarterback Devin Larsen trusted senior receiver Ryan Dobbs to make the grab on a 35-yard completion to set up a first-and-goal. Three plays later, Larsen found senior tight end Rafael Aldecoa in the back of the endzone for a touchdown to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 12 – 0 with 18 seconds left before halftime.

The teams exchanged touchdowns on their opening drives of the second half before the Bulldogs scored 21 unanswered points, including a pick-six by sophomore defensive end Trey Reynolds.

Queen Creek’s Ryan Hobbs (17) pulls a pass in off the Jags’ Keagan Miller’s head during action Friday, October 5, 2018 in Mesa, AZ. (Corey Cross).

Desert Ridge added a meaningless touchdown with 2:39 left in the game to account for the 39 – 14 final score.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Fashionably late:  After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Bulldogs’ offense returned to form just before halftime and kept it rolling afterwards with a touchdown on their first possession of the third quarter – a one-yard TD run by Dylan Borja.

They added two more offensive touchdowns in the second half. Junior Jace Bond scored both, the first on a 51-yard run and later, a 29-yard pass from Larsen.

“We are on that fall break and out of our routine a little bit,” Schureman answered when asked about the slow start. “Sometimes it’s hard to get going, but we finally got back in our routine. That drive right before the half was huge and it (got us going). We did some really good things after that too.”

Defensive depth:  Perhaps hidden in the Bulldogs’ defensive success so far is their depth. It showed in the win at Mountain Pointe two weeks ago, when Reynolds had a couple of timely sacks, and it was evident again against the Jaguars.

“It’s all about Coach Adams,” Dominguez said. “He knows what he’s doing and gives all of us a break, so when we come in we can make the plays we’re supposed to.”

Bad decision: After the Bulldogs scored on the first possession of the third quarter, Desert Ridge answered with a two-yard TD run by Lucas Wright before the Jags’ defense forced Queen Creek to punt following a three-and-out and its fourth sack of Larsen in the game.

The Jags appeared to have momentum, but on their next offensive possession, on a 3rd-and-4 play, Wright inexplicably threw the ball right to Reynolds, who returned it for a TD, which ended any momentum for the Jags and increased the Bulldogs’ lead to 24 – 7.

THREE STARS

No. 3 – Ryan Dobbs. His 35-yard catch ignited the Bulldogs’ offense.

No. 2 – Jace Bond. One rushing TD, one TD reception. He now has seven TDs on the season.

No. 1 – Josh Dominguez. Who else?

HE SAID IT

“Zane made the quarterback think twice about picking up the ball. I came in, got it, and scored. It’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had as a defensive lineman.” – Josh Dominguez on his fumble recovery for a TD.

UP NEXT

Following their bye this week, the Bulldogs will host Highland in their regular-season home finale on Friday, Oct. 19. The fifth-ranked Hawks were No. 1 until a loss to Mountain Pointe two weeks ago. Highland defeated Coronal del Sol last Friday, 38 – 24.

“We’re going to enjoy (Friday’s win) for the next couple days and take a chance to take a breather and relax because our kids have worked their tails off,” Schureman said. “We’ll come back and be ready to go to work.”

Added Lalama: “We’re going to watch a lot of film over the break and then get back with some rest. We’ll be good to go.”

Kickoff for the Friday, Oct. 19, game is scheduled 7 p.m.

It’s Senior Night too.