Queen Creek Loses More than Game against Highland

2 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

Entering its Friday, Oct. 19, final regular-season home game, the Queen Creek football team was in control of all the following:

Its own destiny for the 6A Central Region Championship.

A potential top-four ranking and the two playoff games at home that come with it.

A six-game winning streak.

Then third-ranked Queen Creek relinquished control of two of the above, at least, – and eventually all of them – after visiting Highland defeated the Bulldogs on Senior Night, 38 – 7.

The biggest loss for the Bulldogs, however, was that of senior three-year starting quarterback Devin Larsen, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder that included a dislocation, torn ligaments and a fractured bone.

“Devin is a great player and has been for the last three years here,” Queen Creek head coach Travis Schureman said after the game. “Our hearts go out to him for having to miss the rest of his final high school season.”

As far as the game, the Bulldogs didn’t get their usual fast start, instead the first of their three first-half turnovers allowed the Hawks to take the early 3 – 0 lead.

The teams exchanged turnovers – first Queen Creek, then Highland – and the Bulldogs capitalized on Isaia Glass’ fumble recovery when junior Jace Bond ran for a four-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7 – 3 lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter.

It was all Highland the rest of the way, as it forced two more turnovers and used big plays to score 35-unanswered points, giving the Hawks control of their own destiny for the 6A Central Region Championship.

“I thought Highland came out ready to play and we didn’t,” Schureman said. “We can’t turn over the ball three times in the first half, (especially) in plus territory.

“I don’t think we matched their intensity and their willingness to want to play.”

 

 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Not as planned – The Bulldogs were coming off a bye week before hosting Highland, which is typically a good time to rest up and get healthy. Queen Creek coaches gave the team a five-day break before returning to practice on Oct. 11.

The result of a fluke play, senior Ryan Dobbs, the Bulldogs’ leading receiver and Larsen’s favorite target, was injured during the bye-week practice, causing him to miss the game against the Hawks and the regular-season finale at Desert Vista a week later.

Dobbs’ absence against Highland was evident, even before the loss of Larsen.

Big plays – The Hawks scored three touchdowns on plays of 37 yards or longer, including a 37-yard TD run by Max Davis, a 58-yard TD pass from Kaleb Herbert to Noah Burdick, and a 40-yard TD pass from Herbert to Burdick.

Burdick, a senior, finished with four catches for 121 yards and two TDs. Herbert, another senior, ended 14-of-19 for 215 yards and a pair of TDs.

Rare occurrence – During its six-game winning streak, Queen Creek had only turned the ball over twice – an INT vs. Mesa Mountain View and a fumble vs. Mountain Pointe.

To date, the Bulldogs have had two games with four turnovers – against Chandler and Highland. Both were losses. They’ve only turned the ball over three times combined in their seven wins, so far.

Queen Creek’s Danny Marshall (21) makes one of his team-high nine tackles. (Caitlyn Craig).

THREE STARS

No. 3 – Danny Marshall. Finished with a team-high nine tackles.

No. 2 – Rafael Aldecoa. Had four receptions for 58 yards on offense and five tackles on defense.

No. 1 – Jace Bond. 35 rushing yards on seven carries with a TD and a team-high six receptions for 68 yards.

HE SAID IT

“We can still run the table, I know it. We just (have to) stay focused. I’m (going to) come to all the practices and help however I can… We’ll be fine.” – A portion of a text Devin Larsen sent to teammates in which he also informed them he’d be out the rest of the year.