It has been a long time since Phoenix Arizona Lutheran has played in an important game such as a state-championship game, 2007 to be exact.
Might this be the year that the Coyotes breathe that rare air again?
It is entirely possible, especially after the way they played on Friday night (Oct. 4).
Arizona Lutheran rallied for two second-half touchdowns, including the decisive score with just 21 seconds left in the game, to ruin Division V defending champion Phoenix Northwest Christian’s homecoming with a 29-22 victory in a battle of unbeatens.
Arizona Lutheran remains unblemished at 6-0, while Northwest Christian is 5-1.
“We have a lot of young kids, and this is a great win for us,’’ said Arizona Lutheran coach Scott Indahl. “It’s just awesome. It’s been a little while since we’ve been in a game like this.’’
Arizona Lutheran had been known for its prolific offense, having averaged 56 points going into this one. But it was the defense that turned the game around.
Linebacker Michael Massadeh’s recovery of a fumble at the Northwest 33 with 3:05 left gave the Coyotes excellent field position, and they went ahead with 21 seconds left.
Sophomore quarterback Cameron Haag found junior running back Jesse Zwick in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
The Arizona Lutheran drive was kept alive when Northwest was flagged for encroachment on a fourth-and-3 play from the Northwest 26. Zwick then carried the ball for an 11-yard gain to move the ball closer.
It was a big night for Zwick. He carried the ball 24 times for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns and caught three passes for 17 yards and the decisive TD.
“Jesse is a kid who works so darn hard,’’ Indahl said. “He laid it all out on the field tonight. All of the kids did.’’
Northwest coach Dave Inness thought that Zwick broke free for the last touchdown on an illegal pick play that wasn’t called, but added that wasn’t the reason his team lost.
“We had a chance to put the game away earlier and we didn’t do it,’’ he said.
“It’s not easy to lose, but nobody says you’re going to win them all. We just want to win the right ones, the ones that count, and we will have to work that much harder.’’
Northwest trailed 14-13 at the half and went ahead 19-14 on a 33-yard scoring pass from Inness’ son, Drew, to Matt Delos, with 7:21 left in the third. Justin Johnson made it 22-14 on a 37-yard field goal with 42 seconds left in the third.
Drew Inness scored the game’s first touchdown on an 86-yard run in the first quarter.
Zwick scored on a 12-yard run with 7:14 left in the game, and his two-point conversion run tied it at 22.
Then came the Northwest turnover and the decisive Arizona Lutheran drive.