Shawn Martin was expecting something else.
The Scottsdale Coronado senior kept getting the ball and hitting the line, but where he expected to find someone ready to tackle him, he found open room.
"Sometimes they catch me, sometimes they don't. I guess tonight they couldn't catch me," Martin said. "I've never had a game like this."
Martin rushed 27 times for 338 yards and four touchdowns on Friday, and the Dons needed every one of those yards in a 34-32 win over Chandler Seton Catholic in a 4A-II East Sky Region game at Mesa Community College.
"We knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle, and we pride ourselves on being in shape to play all four," Coronado coach B.J. Pasquel said.
As good as Martin was, Seton quarterback Justin Sieczkowski nearly overshadowed him. Sieczkowski threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns, despite playing much of the fourth quarter on a sprained left ankle and despite his normally sure-handed receivers dropping several passes.
"I can offer no explanation for all of the drops out there," Seton coach Rex Bowser said. "We don't get that ever. I've never seen that out of those kids."
Sieczkowski and the Sentinels (1-2, 0-1) trailed 28-13 late in the third but came back and had a chance to tie the game with 55 seconds left. However, the two-point-conversion pass to Trevor Gleisner was knocked away by Coronado's Kwame Webster, securing the win for the Dons (2-1, 1-0).
"We made it tough on ourselves, there, but in the end, it's a 'W'," Pasquel said.
Martin started finding room midway through the second quarter when he broke away on a 49-yard scoring run. On Coronado's next possession, Martin scored from 64 yards away. The second half was much the same, as the second time Martin touched the ball in the third quarter he scored from 71 yards out.
"I was getting to the end zone, eyes wide," Martin said. "I was surprised by some of that."
Martin's 71-yard run came during the pivotal first five minutes of the second half. Trailing 14-13, Seton had the ball first but was forced to punt. Coronado defensive end Sergio Arocha blocked the punt at the Seton 25, and teammate Jairo Ibarra finally tracked the ball down at the 10, where he scooped it up and scored.
Seton's next possession ended when linebacker Blaze Dikeman intercepted a pass from Sieczkowski at the Dons' 24-yard line. Two plays later, Coronado had a 28-13 lead.
"We had a huge blocked punt and one big run," Pasquel said. "The rest of the time, we were on defense."
Seton ran 51 offensive plays in the second half, while Coronado had just 22.
After his interception, Sieczkowski went off, completing 7-of-10 passes for 81 yards on the next drive, which was capped by his scoring toss to Zac Awender.
The next time Seton got the ball, Sieczkowski marched the Sentinels right down the field, hitting Kenny Whisenhunt for a 37-yard score that pulled Seton within two points, 28-26.
On the two-point conversion, Sieczkowski rolled left and couldn't find an open receiver. He was hit at the 1-yard line and knocked out of bounds. Not only did the conversion fail, but Sieczkowski suffered a sprained ankle.
When Seton got the ball back, Sieczkowski limped out onto the field and completed the first throw of the drive, an 11-yard strike to Whisenhunt. But Sieczkowski needed help getting to the line, so Bowser put in backup Anthony Wallace.
"He was insisting he could go," Bowser said. "But he couldn't get back to the line of scrimmage, so we had to take him out."
The first pass from Wallace floated a bit, and Coronado's Kwame Webster made a sliding interception at the Seton 40 that set up Martin's final touchdown run from 8 yards out. But a missed point-after kick kept the door open for the Sentinels.
Seton drove into Coronado territory but was faced with a fourth and 10. Sieczkowski lofted a pass to Awender.
Dikeman broke on the ball and thought he had his second interception of the night, but his misjudged his jump, and Awender caught the ball and ran down to the Dons' 24. A personal foul on Martin moved the ball to the 12 and Sieczkowski hit Andrew Madrick, who was guarded by Martin, in the corner for the score, cutting the Dons' lead to 34-32 and setting up the final two-point-conversion try.
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Seton had a nice drive going before an illegal motion penalty sets them back. But, Tommy Chavez hits on a 43-yard field goal to put Seton up 3-0 with 9:50 left in first half.
Shawn Martin goes up the gut and outruns two Seton safeties for a 49-yard touchdown. PAT good and Coronado is up 7-3 with 5:58 left in first half.
After a 59-yard kickoff return by Seton's Kenny Whisenhunt, Seton needed three plays before Justin Sieczkowski hits Trevor Gleisner on a 19-yard scoring toss to put Seton back in front, 10-7 with 4:49 left in first half.
Coronado's Martin goes over the 200-yard mark for the first half when he breaks another inside run and dodges and outruns the Seton secondary. Coronado back on top 14-10. Martin has (unnofficially) 218 yards on 13 carries.
Seton quickly drives into Coronado territory, but a couple of dropped passes stall drive. Tommy Chavez comes on and hits another FG, this one from 40 yards out. Score now 14-13, Coronado ahead with 1:03 left in half.
We go to the half with Coronado clinging to 14-13 lead. Dons' Shawn Martin ends half with 224 rushing yards.
Also after two quarters, Coronado QB Alex Buya is an efficient 6-for-9 passing for 69 yards.
Seton's Justin Sieczkowski was hurt by four or five dropped balls and finished the first half completing 8-of-20 passes for 96 yards and one TD, a 19-yarder to Trevor Gleisner, who has four catches for 39 yards.
Seton running back Greg Rodriguez has been very effective with 8 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for 25 yards.
Neither team has turned the ball over.
Coronado's Jairo Ibarra scoops up blocked punt at the 10 and goes in for the score. It's now 21-13 Coronado.
Shawn Martin needs just two carries to run 76 yards, scoring on a 71-yard run that gives him 300 yards for the game and gives the Dons a 28-13 lead.
Justin Sieczkowski goes 7-for-10 for 81 yards on drive and throws a 9-yard touchdown to Zac Awender to get Sentinels back in game. Seton now trailing 28-20 with 1:49 left in third quarter.
End of the third quarter here, Coronado 28, Seton 20 with Seton's ball on their own 6.
Martin has 322 yards on 19 carries so far.
In case you are wondering, the 4A record is 470 yards by Lake Havasu's Brent Michaels back in 2007.
Seton drives 94 yards in 10 plays and Sieczkowski connects with Whisenhunt for a 37-yard TD. Seton now trailing 28-26. Called timeout before going for 2-point conversion. 9:32 left in game.
Sieczkowski is stopped at the 1-yard line on a scramble and Seton fails to convert 2-point conversion. Even worse, Sieczkowski is on the ground hurt. Trainer looking at lower leg. Coronado 28, Seton 26.
Sieczkowski walks back to bench with a limp.
Coronado's Martin scores his third TD of the game, this one from 8 yards out, but Coronado misses extra point, leaving Seton just 8 points back, 34-26, with 5:19 left to play.
Two big throws by Sieczkowski. First one was on the fourth down play, he lofted a ball to Zac Awender that the defender went for the interception on. Awender ended up with it and got down to the 17. Tack on yard for a personal foul by Coronado and Seton has first down on the 12. Next play, Sieczkowski hits Andrew Madrick in corner of end zone. timeout now, awaiting 2-point conversion. Coronado leads 34-32 with 55.1 seconds left.
Sieczkowski's two-point conversion pass to Gleisner is knocked away.
Coronado leads 34-32.
Final: Coronado 34, Seton 32
Coronado (1-1) at Seton (1-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Address: Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa
Key matchup: Coronado did an excellent job defending the pass last week against Washington. It will have to slow down another pass-happy offense in Seton.
Key stat: Sentinels quarterback Justin Sieczkowski
The intrigue: Coronado had more success last season, but lost more impact players than the Sentinels. Both teams expect to be jockeying for position in the 4A East Sky, and this one will clear up that picture some.