PHOENIX - The #1 seeded Desert Edge Scorpions used their balanced offensive attack to defeat the #5 seeded Williams Field Black Hawks, 37-27, in the Division III State Playoff semifinal match-up Saturday night at Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix.
The game started out fast for Desert Edge when senior defensive back Ronald Dowdell intercepted Williams Field quarterback Jeddediah Fagg on just the fourth play of the game.
"It was great to get that interception there, it got us off to a good start and the ball in the hands of our offense," Dowdell said of the play.
The Scorpions would capitalize on the Black Hawk turnover as senior quarterback Sawyer Lung connected with running back C.J. Heard for a 37-yard touchdown pass, putting Desert Edge up 7-0 just minutes into the game.
On their next possession, following another defensive stop, Desert Edge turned to senior running back Kyle Woolard and their power running game. This set up a field goal by senior kicker Chris Brown from 22 yards out, giving the Scorpions a 10-point lead.
The high octane Desert Edge offensive attack would strike again, when Lung completed passes for 16 and 17 yards before running it in form 1- yard out, giving Desert edge a 17-0 lead.
Although down 17 points, Williams Field would not give up, the team did not get down on themselves and put together a couple strong scoring drives before halftime to keep them in the game.
The first came on a 53-yard touchdown reception from Fagg to junior wide receiver Cole Forsgren on a beautifully run post route. This was followed by another Black Hawk touchdown after the Scorpions fumbled the ball, this time a 42-yard strike from Fagg to Forsgren, cutting the Desert Edge lead to 3 going into the half.
After the Black Hawks made a defensive adjustment and started loading the box to stop the Scorpion running attack, Desert Edge saw the adjustment and called the perfect play. Just as the defense blasted through the line of scrimmage, Woolard slipped out for a screen pass and turned it up field for a 39-yard touchdown giving Desert Edge a 24-14 lead.
"We had them set up for it," said Woolard. "They sent a blitz and we called the right play at the right time, and once I got behind their defenders it was over".
But Williams Field kept coming at the Scorpions all night long, and towards the end of the 3rd quarter they cut the deficit to 7 points, following a 1-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Sean Schweichler.
Desert Edge would answer right back, as championship teams do, when Sawyer Lung connected with Woolard on another screen play, this time it went for 71 yards and gave the Scorpions the ball on the Williams Field 3-yard line. On the very next play Lung hit standout receiver Elijah Marks for a 3-yard touchdown pass making it 34-20 Desert Edge, pretty much sealing the semifinal victory for the Scorpions.
"I just had to try and get space, I knew we needed it so I just did my best," Woolard said of the touchdown reception following the big Desert Edge win.
The Scorpions would make another field goal and Williams Field would follow that up with a touchdown to make the final score 37-27 at Sandra Day O'Connor High Saturday night.
With the victory, the Scorpions punched their ticket to play Queen Creek next Saturday on the big stage at Arizona State University in the school's first ever State Championship appearance.
"We have two undefeated teams who really don't know much about each other at this point," Desert Edge head coach Rich Wellbrock said following the victory, "It should be fun, really fun, coach Germaine does a great job over there and we are excited to be playing them in the state championship".
In 2010 Desert Edge lost in the state semifinal game. Sawyer Lungs' brother was the quarterback of that team and he spoke about how he has helped him through this playoff run, "He texts me once or twice a day telling me to live it up and take it one game at a time, you don't get experiences like this very often. We aren't just doing this for us but we are doing it for them too".