Queen Creek Playoff Victory Could Be Habit-Forming

3 weeks ago Andrew Luberda 0

If it’s true that it takes 21 days to form a habit, then the Queen Creek football team is only hours away from creating one that’s sure to be a little nerve-racking for Bulldogs fans.

For the second-straight week, Queen Creek erased a halftime deficit with a dominant second-half performance that resulted in a double-digit victory.

After outscoring Desert Vista 36-8 in the second half a week ago, the No. 4-seed Bulldogs outscored No. 13 Boulder Creek, which held a 21 – 20 lead at the half, 30 – 15 during the final 24 minutes on their way to a 50 – 36 come-from-behind victory on Friday night in the first-round of the 6A State Playoffs.

Isaia Glass (73). (Pete Kaupe, @PGKaupe)

“The first half was a fight,” Queen Creek junior two-way lineman Isaia Glass said afterwards. “The second half we adjusted, came back, and did our job.”

Friday’s game featured six lead changes, including five in the first half. One of those occurred on consecutive plays during the second quarter.

Following a Jaguars touchdown – a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bear Milacek – Queen Creek junior Colby Littleton returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown that allowed the Bulldogs to reclaim the lead, 17 – 14.

“I started running and a big hole opened, and I just took off,” Littleton said about the return.

With the win, the Bulldogs now have a chance to avenge a lopsided 38 – 3 loss three weeks ago to Central Region rival and fifth-seeded Highland in the 6A Quarterfinals.

“It going to be a big game and we’ve learned from our mistakes,” Bulldogs junior Hunter Barth told CountyLinePreps.com. “We just need to maintain our focus and have a good week of practice.”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

“Special” Teams – Three Bulldogs – Colby Littleton, Keshaun Calip and Jace Bond – combined for nearly 200 return yards in the game. Prior to Littleton’s kickoff return, Calip’s 45-yard punt return created a short field that resulted in a 27-yard drive that ended with Trey Reynolds’ four-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs their second lead of the game, 10 – 7.

“(In) the first half our special teams really kept us in the game, so that was encouraging,” Queen Creek head coach Joe Germaine said.

Taking Advantage – The Bulldogs had three takeaways in game and scored 17 points off them, in addition to another rushing touchdown by Trey Reynolds after a bad snap on a Jaguars failed fourth-down attempt at their own 24-yard line.

“Our defense bowed up and we were able to capitalize on turnovers, and I think that was the difference,” Germaine said.

Not All About Adjustments – Queen Creek athletic director Paul Reynolds once told me a few years back that Germaine, assistance coach Travis Schureman and the rest of the Bulldogs staff are as good as anybody at making great adjustments at halftime, a point that would be hard to argue, especially looking at the last two weeks.

Germaine, however, credited the character displayed by his players.  

“We have some high-character kids,” he said. “We talked about it as a team a couple weeks ago; we have good players here, and they’re young and some are inexperienced, but they’re good players. More than being just good players and wanting good players here, we want the right players.

“Guys that are the right type of people, the right type of character, guys that fight and are good teammates,” Germaine continued. “I think we have a lot of that here. So, we’ll build on that.”

THREE STARS

Hunter Barth. (Pete Kaupe, @PGKaupe)

No. 3 – Colby Littleton. 121 return yards, one TD and 11 tackles.

No. 2 – Trey Reynolds. 41 total yards, two rushing TDs and 13 tackles.

No. 1 – Hunter Barth. Four receptions for 55 yards, two TDs and three tackles.

HE SAID IT

“We go into the game knowing we’re going to have to grind it out and in the second half we’re ready to go,” – Hunter Barth, on the Bulldogs’ strong second-half performances of late.

UP NEXT

The Bulldogs will host Highland in a 6A Quarterfinal game on Friday, Nov. 15. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We have a ton of respect for Highland,” Germaine said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge, we’ve got our work cut out, but we’re happy to be playing (on Friday).”