Queen Creek gave its fans a fourth-quarter ride Friday night. After spending three quarters blowing golden opportunities and giving up a couple of key plays, the Bulldogs found their 'A’ game when it counted most.
The result: A dramatic, come-from-behind, 15-14 victory for Queen Creek over rival Gilbert Higley Friday night in a 4A Division II East Sky showdown at Higley.
Trailing 14-0 entering the final quarter, Queen Creek (7-3, 4-1) scored on touchdown runs from Jake Goddard and Iggy Castro over the final 9:36.
The second touchdown was highlighted by a successful two-point conversion play in which quarterback Richie Edwards connected with wide receiver Joel Hanson, giving Queen Creek its 15-14 advantage with 2:57 remaining in the game.
“We wanted to win the game right then and there,” said Queen Creek coach Curt LeBlanc afterward.
“That was a quality win for us. We should’ve scored 14 in the first half, but when we had a shot to win late in the game that’s what we played for.”
It was Queen Creek’s fourth victory over Higley (7-3, 4-1) in five years. It also cost Higley bragging rights for the outright region title, which instead ended in a three-way tie with Queen Creek and Coronado.
Goddard and Marqus Martinez did most of the damage for Queen Creek on the ground, combining for 192 yards.
“We made some errors in the first half, but our defense kept playing and we could see (Higley) was getting tired,” Edwards said of the comeback.
“Our defense just kept playing hard, and when we got the chance to get down there and score, I wasn’t that surprised the coaches called for a two-point conversion.”
Higley had built its lead with timely plays on both sides of the ball. Senior Matt Ross hauled in a 19-yard touchdown late in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Queen Creek was poised to tie the game late in the second quarter, marching 82 yards in 10 plays to the Higley 1-yard line. But Goddard was stuffed on fourth and 1.
A defensive struggle appeared to be in the making in the third quarter before Higley tailback Chris Campbell broke off a 54-yard touchdown jaunt midway through the third quarter, giving his team a 14-0 lead.