Bulldogs defeat Blue Ridge 13-6

The Winslow Bulldogs defeated the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets 13-6 in a hard-fought quarter-final game of the Arizona State 3A Football Championship Play-offs at Mesa Community College on Friday. The win sent the Bulldogs into a semi-final game against the Show Low Cougars on Friday. Show Low earned its berth in the semi-finals with a 21-0 win over the Santa Cruz Dust Devils. Winslow improved its record to 10-1 for the season. Blue Ridge ended its season with an 8-3 record.

The first quarter was a classic defensive struggle in which neither high-powered offense could produce a first down, much less a score.

The Bulldogs scored early in the second period on a one yard run by quarterback Jeremiah Johnson. The score was set up by a 17-yard punt return by Jordan Payne followed by a hit out of bounds that gave Winslow the ball at the Yellow Jackets’ 15 yard line. A 13-yard run by Orlando Vargas brought the ball near the goal line. The conversion kick was wide, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave Mark Spencer a second chance and his conversion gave the ‘Dogs a 7-0 lead with 10:20 left in the half.

Blue Ridge drove 70 yards in seven plays and scored with only five seconds remaining in the half. The key play was a 50-yard pass from Cameron Jarman to Curtis Farlander. Jarman scored from eight yards out in the waning seconds of the half. The Yellow Jackets went for two points and Jarman was stopped short leaving the Bulldogs clinging to a 7-6 half-time lead.

Both teams had touchdowns nullified by penalties in an exciting but scoreless third quarter.

The Yellow Jackets had two touchdown passes nullified on their first possession of the second half on holding and motion penalties respectively. Blue Ridge had recovered a fumble on the second half kick-off at the Winslow 25 yard line, but could not take advantage of the opportunity.

The Bulldogs drove to inside the Yellow Jackets 10 yard line but could not score. Vargas got into the end zone again, but a holding penalty nullified that score as well. Jeremy Finch intercepted a Bulldogs pass at the eight yard line. The key to the drive was a 50-yard pass from Payne to Carlos Quezada.

After Blue Ridge drove deep into Winslow territory, Warren Prosser gave the Bulldogs the ball on a fumble recovery at the Bulldogs 36-yard line. The ‘Dogs went on an 18 play, 64 -yard drive that ended in a four yard touchdown run by John L. Sullivan. A bobbled snap resulted in a failed conversion and a 13-6 Winslow lead with 1:46 left in the game. Sullivan and Prosser had shared the bulk of the running duties on the drive. The key play of the drive was a roughing the kicker penalty against Blue Ridge on a 37 yard field goal attempt that gave the Bulldogs a first down inside the 10 yard line.

Quezada intercepted the last gasp Blue Ridge pass at the Winslow seven with less than a minute remaining in the contest. Johnson only had to take a knee three times to run out the clock and preserve the victory.

Blue Ridge had a slight statistical edge with 239 yard of total offense to 190 for the Bulldogs. Winslow’s stellar defense held the Yellow Jackets to only 80 yards rushing while the Bulldogs offense gained 134. Blue Ridge passed for 159 yards on 14 completions in 26 attempts. Winslow had 56 yards passing on four completions in 10 attempts. Both teams were hurt by key penalties.

Warren Prosser was not okayed to play the game until late in the week, but played a huge role in the Winslow win. He and Sullivan were huge on both offense and defense and carried the brunt of the running attack in the key 18 play, over six minute drive for the final touchdown. Johnson, Quezada and Payne had many huge plays on defense. Payne was outstanding as a punter and in returning punts to help the Bulldogs win the field position game.

The Bulldogs will meet the undefeated and top-ranked Show Low Cougars who improved to 12-0 with a 21-0 win over the Santa Cruz Dust Devils. That game will kick-off at 8 p.m. following a game between Seton Catholic and Snowflake. Seton Catholic defeated Queen Creek 17-7 and Snowflake bested Coolidge 35-20.

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