After all the grinding on the line and more than 700 yards of offense, it all came down to a fourth-and-5.
And there were 4 1/2 yards gained on the play.
Opting to go for it rather than try a potential tying field goal is a decision that might keep Williams Field coach Steve Campbell awake at night for a while.
“That was the debate that was going through my head,” Campbell said. “You just try to figure the odds. A 47-yard field goal for a high school kid, that’s one heck of kick. A (5-yard) run for a team who is averaging 10 yards a carry during the game? You play the odds, and that’s what happens. I’ll go through that call probably 1,000 times before I go to bed tonight.”
A half-yard kept the top-seeded Black Hawks from keeping a drive alive on the Queen Creek 25-yard line with 2:03 left, and the fourth-seeded Bulldogs ran out the clock to preserve a 31-28 win Monday night in the Division III semifinals at Campo Verde.
Queen Creek now has three days to prepare for No. 2 Saguaro in the state championship game Friday at 1 p.m. at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
But the only reason Williams Field was in position to tie or possibly go ahead was a fumble by Queen Creek workhorse running back Matt Guida with 3:41 left.
“That’s what you have to do sometimes,” Guida said. “We were due for a turnover, we hadn’t turned the ball over all game, we coughed one up and come back on defense and make a great stop. That’s how a team works. It was nice to get one back for the offense.”
The decisive sequence came after Black Hawks quarterback Cole Patterson hit Cole Forsgren up the right sideline for a 33-yard touchdown with 5:10 remaining to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 31-28.
On third-and-4 on the ensuing possession, Queen Creek handed the ball to Guida, who was playing his first significant minutes on offense in weeks. Guida had 16 carries from 144 yards up to that point, but he couldn’t handle the exchange and fumbled. Williams Field’s Noah De Los Monteros pounced on it at the Bulldogs 20-yard line.
The ensuing celebrations led to an unsportsmanlike penalty, though, so the Black Hawks took over at the 35.
Two runs by Jacob Anderson --who ended the night with 162 yards on 21 carries -- left Williams Field with a fourth-and-5 at the 30.
Campbell said a field goal would have been within kicker Blake Ruiz’s range, but he decided to go back to what had been Williams Field's bread and butter all season and much of the night.
Anderson took the ball and went left, coming down just inside the 26, ending the Black Hawks' season a week or so too early.
Queen Creek, which has overcome the official departure of Joe Germaine as head coach, will return to the title game and try to defend the Division III title that was claimed with a win over Goodyear Desert Edge a year ago.
But first, the Bulldogs had to get some revenge for their regular-season loss to Williams Field.
“They kind of beat us up the last time,” Queen Creek coach Travis Schureman said. “So that next morning, we went back to work and we went back to basics, and just getting after it and being tough.”
The Bulldogs set the tone early, scoring on three of their first four possessions and establishing the run. When Williams Field struck back on a 41-yard run by Anderson to cut the lead to 10-7, Queen Creek answered.
A long kickoff return by Weston Barlow gave Queen Creek the ball on the Williams Field 35 right before the end of the first quarter. Guida ran it in on the next play.
Guida pulled a hamstring earlier in the year and played sparingly on offense in the first two weeks of the playoffs.
“It’s great to have that kid back right now,” Schureman said.
The Black Hawks bounced back with an 85-yard drive, capped by Kyle Gill’s 23-yard scoring run. Williams Field had another chance to score late in the half, but Patterson threw an interception -- to Guida, of course -- at the Bulldogs 11 with three seconds left before the break.
A penalty and a hold kept Williams Field from driving to start the third quarter, and Queen Creek marched down for another Guida score to go up 24-14.
Williams Field’s Darius Williams ran the ensuing kickoff back to the Queen Creek 42 and set up a short drive that ended with another Gill TD run, cutting the margin to 24-21.
Queen Creek re-established its line dominance with a 75-yard drive over five-plus minutes, with Guida diving in from the 1 on fourth down with 8:25 to play.
Barlow added 174 yards on the ground for the Bulldogs.
“When we can rotate those two kids in, that makes it tough because they are two different types of runners, but they are dynamic and they run hard,” Schureman said.
Queen Creek 31, Williams Field 28
First Downs: QC 17, WF 14
Rushing: QC 50-351, WF 35-227
Passing (comp.-att.-yds-TD-INT): QC 4-8-99-1-0, WF 7-10-134-0-1
Fumbles-lost: QC 2-1, WF 1-1
Penalties-yards: QC 4-48, WF 6-49
Queen Creek 17 0 0 0 -- 21
Wiliams Field 7 7 0 7 -- 14
QC: Paulsen 27 FG
QC: McGuire 67 pass from Dobbs (Paulsen kick)
WF: Anderson 41 run (Ruiz kick)
QC: Guida 35 run (Paulsen kick)
WF: Gill 23 run (Ruiz kick)
QC: Guida 12 run (Paulsen kick)
WF: Gill 6 run (Ruiz kick)
QC: Guida 1 run (Paulsen kick)
WF: Forsgren 33 pass from Patterson (Ruiz kick)