A million thoughts ran through Tucker Workman’s mind in the longest five seconds of his life.
And then came just one emotion: Pure, unbridled joy.
The Queen Creek defensive back tackled Desert Edge punter Chris Brown in the end zone for a safety with only 12 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a shocking 9-7 victory over the Scorpions in the Division III state championship game on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.
The contest seemed destined for overtime as the Scorpions lined up to punt from their 25 with 19 seconds remaining, but the snap sailed high and rolled into the end zone. Brown picked it up and turned to get the kick away, but Workman barreled down on him in time for the tackle.
“It felt like slow motion,” Workman said. “It went over his head, and I was like, ‘Oh jeez, you’ve got to go.’ As soon as he picked it up, I was right there. It felt great.”
The victory capped a 14-0 season and the first state championship in Bulldogs’ history.
“Everything came together for us,” wide receiver/defensive back Mike Graff said. “It doesn’t even seem real right now. It’s indescribable.”
After a scoreless first half, Desert Edge struck first on a 5-yard touchdown run by Kyle Woolard on its first drive of the third quarter.
Queen Creek watched a promising drive end on a fumble by Matt Guida in the third quarter and its chances seemed to be running out. Quarterback Carson Jones threw incomplete on a 4th-and-3 from the Desert Edge 25 with 7:39 remaining, but a defensive holding call gave the Bulldogs new life. One play later, Guida scored from 15 yards out to tie the game at 7.
Desert Edge’s next drive was kept alive on a roughing the punter penalty, but the Scorpions could not capitalize and punted to Queen Creek with 3:55 left. The Bulldogs converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 39 but eventually punted it back to Desert Edge with 37 seconds remaining.
Quarterback Sawyer Lung then threw two incomplete passes and Woolard only gained two yards on third down. Queen Creek coach Joe Germaine called timeout to stop the clock and set up the punt block, which never materialized but resulted in the game-winning safety.
The Bulldogs were bottled up on offense for the first time this year, as Jones finished just 1-of-9 passing for 15 yards. Guida carried the ball 26 times for 160 yards.
The Queen Creek secondary did a great job against the Scorpions passing game, holding quarterback Sawyer Lung to 11-of-24 passing for 105 yards. Woolard had 25 carries for 119 yards.
While it may not have been the cleanest game, the Bulldogs finished it off in the end.
“It was ugly,” Germaine said. “On the X’s and O’s side of things, it was not a really well-executed game. But our kids kept their poise. They never gave up and believed the whole time. They almost kind of just willed something to happen.”
Queen Creek 9, Desert Edge 7
QC - 0 0 0 9 -- 9
DE - 0 0 7 0 -- 7
First downs: QC 12; DE 15
Rushes-Yards: QC 37-152; DE 34-107
Passing yards: QC 15; DE 105
Comp-Att-Int: QC 1-9-0; DE 11-24-0
Fumbles-Lost: QC 1-1; DE 2-0
Penalties-Yards: QC 4-40; DE 9-75
DE — Woolard 5 run, Brown kick
QC — Guida 14 run, Ibarra kick
QC — Workman tackled Brown for safety