It sounds kind of crazy, but Williams Field coach Steve Campbell was all about giving his defense credit in a football game that saw his Black Hawks get a 53-30 victory on Friday over Peoria Liberty.
"The defense played their butts off," Campbell said.
The offense wasn't bad either as Williams Field advances to the Division III semifinals with the big road victory. Actually, the Black Hawks scored in a variety of ways getting touchdowns via the run, the pass, on special teams and even a 42-yard interception return by Terrance Payne late in the fourth quarter.
Fifth seed Williams Field (11-1) now faces No. 1 seed Goodyear Desert Edge in next Saturday's semifinals. The game will be played at Sandra Day O'Connor High School.
Campbell liked what his defense did because it allowed only two touchdowns until late in the four quarter. And it was going against a prolific offense that came into the game averaging 49 points per game.
That defense also forced four turnovers and each time the Black Hawks responded by scoring a touchdown.
"You win the turnover battle you usually win the football game," Campbell said.
Williams Field also made key defensive adjustments to slow down the Lions' passing attack. By halftime, Liberty's Brandon Murphy had seven catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. After halftime he had just three catches for 18 yards.
"We just had to have a little awareness," Campbell said. "We had to see what they were doing and then make adjustments."
A late touchdown run by Sean Schweichler gave Williams Field a 19-14 lead at the half and it looked like it was going to be a tight football game the rest of the way.
It was a relatively quiet third quarter until Schweichler fielded a punt and then raced 68 yards for a touchdown to give the Black Hawks a 25-14 lead. It was one of four touchdowns the sensational running back had on Friday. He also rushed 30 times for 194 yards. It leaves him with 1,317 yards and 32 touchdowns on the season.
"On that kick it was short so I came up and caught it and then saw the cut back and just took off," Schweichler said. "I was pretty confident in our offense. I watched a lot of film on them and saw how their safeties and linebackers were playing."
That punt return was one of four straight touchdowns scored late in the third quarter and early in the fourth for the Black Hawks as they pulled away from the Lions. Schweichler added a 1-yard run, backup quarterback Cole Patterson then raced 41 yards for another score before Payne found the end zone with his interception return.
But the game wasn't quite over. Liberty responded by scoring two touchdowns eight seconds apart in the fourth quarter cutting the lead to 46-30 with 5:13 left in the game. Back in came the starters for Williams Field and quarterback Jeddediah Fagg responded by leading the Black Hawks on a scoring drive late to put the game away.
Liberty got all of its offense through the air with senior Tyler Rogers throwing for 343 yards and two touchdowns. But it was Rogers who threw two interceptions and fumbled twice.
"We made too many mistakes and they didn't make any," Liberty coach Dan Filleman said. "They got a little pressure on us."
Gilbert Williams Field 53, Peoria Liberty 30
Williams Field 7 12 6 28 - 53
Liberty 7 7 0 16 - 30
First downs: WF 18; L 17
Rushes-yards: WF 46-287; L 27-59
Passing yards: WF 119; L 343
Comp-Att-Int: WF 5-13-0; L 23-39-2
Penalties: WF 11-95; L 10-70
Fumbles: WF 1-0; L 3-2
L - Murphy 36 pass from Rogers (Wyatt kick)
WF - Schweichler 21 run (Gregson kick)
WF - Alexander 15 pass from Fagg (kick failed)
L - Murphy 75 pass from Rogers (Wyatt kick)
WF - Schweichler 3 run (pass failed)
WF - Schweichler 68 punt return (run failed)
WF - Schweichler 1 run (Gregson kick)
WF - Patterson 41 run (Gregson kick)
WF - Payne 41 interception return (Gregson kick)
L - Murphy 96 kickoff return (Wyatt run)
L - Wills 18 pass from Rogers (Wyatt pass from Rogers)
WF - Forsgren 11 pass from Fagg (Gregson kick)