Scottsdale Saguaro running back Justin Shelton was able to live up to a promise he made to his coach.
After losing a fumble in the first half of his team’s second-round playoff game against No. 8 Paradise Valley, and compounding that with a 15-yard penalty, Shelton told his coach that he’d make up for it in the second half.
With No. 1 Saguaro leading 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, Shelton scored on a 41-yard run as the Sabercats defeated the Trojans 27-14 at Saguaro Friday night.
“He knew I wasn’t very happy with him,” Saguaro coach John Sanders said. “He promised me in the second half he’d make it up to me. I told him when he jogged back (after the touchdown), 'You’re good. You made up for it.’ The kid had a great run; it was a big game breaker for us.”
Saguaro (12-0) plays intra-city rival, No. 5 Chaparral, in the semifinals Nov. 30.
“As a senior, I love it. It just makes everything more interesting,” Shelton said. “I’m glad they’re playing us in this next game.”
On the Trojans’ fifth play from scrimmage, quarterback Grant O’Brien was hit and injured as he threw a pass. He suffered a leg injury and his night was done.
But Paradise Valley (9-3) responded with classic offense-as-defense ball control. On nearly every offensive play, Trojans quarterback Dylan Borys stepped to the line of scrimmage with a full backfield, only to freeze until the play clock reached its waning seconds before snapping the ball.
With the game tied at 7, the Trojans opened the second half with a scoring drive that took more than eight minutes, going 65 yards on 14 plays.
After that, though, the Saguaro defensive line tightened up. Paradise Valley made just three first downs on its next three possessions, ending in two punts and a fumble.
“We’ve lived and died with that defensive line the last two years,” Sanders said.
“They got us to the state championship and I’m counting on them to get us back. They stepped up when they had to.”