Yuma Catholic and Phoenix Northwest Christian wrote another chapter in their outstanding football rivalry on Friday night (Nov. 1), and this one didn’t disappoint.
The Division V powers slugged it out and it was a tale of two halves.
Yuma Catholic controlled the first half with a 14-6 lead, but the Shamrocks were kept off the board in the second as host Northwest Christian rallied for a 26-14 victory.
The win probably meant more to Northwest Christian than had Yuma Catholic won. The Shamrocks were the No. 1 seed in Arizona Interscholastic Association power points entering the final week of the regular season. Northwest Christian, meanwhile, was sitting at No. 8 and a loss might have dropped the Crusaders out of the running for a first-round playoff game.
The brackets will be officially announced on Saturday (Nov. 2) from 9-11 a.m. Yuma Catholic is 7-2, Northwest Christian 8-2.
Northwest Christian coach and athletic director Dave Inness said it was extremely quiet in his team’s locker room at halftime.
The Crusaders knew what they had to do, came out and did it.
“We were just playing for a good seed. I told the guys, “Just go out and play as hard as you can,’ ’’ Inness said. “We started about 17 underclassmen, and they grew up tonight.’’
In the Crusaders’ losses to Phoenix Arizona Lutheran and Phoenix Bourgade Catholic on back-to-back weeks, Inness said his team had eight turnovers.
“Other than those, it wasn’t like we had not played well enough to win,’’ he said.
On Friday night, the Crusaders gave up the ball just once.
A pair of seniors led the way on senior night.
Matt Delos accounted for 136 total yards (70 rushing, 66 in receptions), caught a 3-yard touchdown pass and was a stopper defensively. Lineman Will Gades helped to control things up front on both sides of the ball.
“Delos is the best two-way player in Division V,’’ Inness said. “He’s old-school.’’
Running back Travis Polley also had a big night for the Crusaders. The 5-foot-5 sophomore rushed for 101 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Yuma Catholic got a strong effort from junior Carter Rodriguez. He rushed for 127 yards on 27 carries with a pair of touchdowns, and had several hard hits in the secondary.
Northwest Christian pulled to within 14-12 on Drew Inness’ 3-yard TD pass to Delos with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
Yuma Catholic missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt with 8:11 to go in the fourth.
Northwest Christian took the lead for good with 5:43 left on a 15-yard run by Polley, a sweep around left end.
On Yuma Catholic’s first play after the kickoff, a short pass by the Shamrocks in the right flat looked to be a catch by the receiver, but he did not have possession. The ball had not hit the ground, remaining against the receiver’s body, when the Crusaders’ Tyler Predovich grabbed the ball and took off, scoring on a 27-yard interception with 5:38 left. Northwest Christian had its margin of victory.