The weather only delayed Queen Creek’s run to a second victory to start the season – although this one was over a Division I team and the Bulldogs had to do it without head coach Joe Germaine and finished without all-star Matt Guida.
Queen Creek assistant coach Travis Schureman said he was the acting head coach on Friday and declined to comment further about Germaine.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs, after a sloppy start, controlled the line of scrimmage and Guida rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win at Highland in a steady drizzle after a one-hour weather delay.
“It’s a Division I school, they have the numbers but our kids came out and played hard tonight,” Schureman said.
The defending Division III state champions needed a red zone stop in the waning minutes to secure the win but Semone Brown’s interception in the end zone with 1:41 left cemented the victory over Highland, ranked No. 10 in Division I.
“There’s no excuses, we got beat by Queen Creek,” said Highland coach Pete Wahlheim. “That’s a good football team. Our guys didn’t come out ready to play. That’s my fault. We will have them ready to play next week.”
After an interception on the first play from scrimmage led to a Hawk score, Queen Creek could not get its offense in gear for nearly the entire first quarter.
But Guida bounced out for a 33-yard score with 9:59 left in the half, then ran 37 yards for another score the next time he touched the ball – Queen Creek getting field position after a 21-yard punt. Then Weston Barlow did the damage, carrying the ball five times on the next drive but Guida punched it in from the 1 with 5.9 seconds left and the Bulldogs had a 21-7 lead at the half.
“We came in prepared,” Barlow said. “We had some trials throughout the week but we had faith and we did come through as a team.”
Wahlheim said, “They were more physical than we were in the first half. I thought we played well in the second half. We can figure some things out but you have to play four quarters and we weren’t ready to play and that’s on me.”
On the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half, Guida ran for a first down at midfield and hurt his left leg. He did not return and Schureman said he did not know what Guida’s injury was. But that certainly put a cramp in the Bulldogs’ plans.
“I was a little nervous, a little pressure,” Barlow said. “But I knew with my line, we would all step up a little and we can do what we need to do.”
Highland did get one back after a long, 14-play, 87-yard drive capped by Ryan McCord’s 1-yard plunge on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Hawks held the Bulldogs and got the ball on the Highland 19 with 6:44 remaining. Blake Young drove his team to the 15. Devin James picked up two yards on first down but Young threw an incompletion in the end zone with Brown defending. Then, Queen Creek’s Skyler Bollman sacked Young for a four-yard loss on third down, setting up Brown’s final heroics.
McCord was a workhorse, getting 167 yards on 33 carries, scoring both Hawk touchdowns.
Queen Creek 21, Highland 14
First Downs: QC 9, Highland 13
Rushing: QC 31-166, Highland 47-215
Passing (comp.-att.-yds-TD-INT): QC 2-9-12-0-1, Highland 3-12-25-0-1
Fumbles-lost: QC 1-0, Highland 2-0
Penalties-yards: QC 2-9, Highland 2-25
Queen Creek 0 21 0 0 -- 21
Highland 7 0 0 7 -- 14
H: McCord 2 run (Miller kick)
QC: Guida 33 run (Paulsen kick)
QC: Guida 37 run (Paulsen kick)
QC: Guida 1 run (Paulsen kick)
H: McCord 1 run (Miller kick)