Salpointe over The Ridge 30-14by Andy Morales on Oct. 27, 2012, under Sports
It was billed as one of the most epic games in Tucson history. Undefeated Ironwood Ridge traveled to Salpointe Friday night as the Division II top seed, complete with a victory over nationally ranked Centennial on its résumé.
5 seed Salpointe had only one loss, a close game against Encino Crespi to start the season but the Lancers followed that up with a win at Chaparral.
Was the game more epic than the 2010 4A-I semifinal game where former CDO running back Ka’Deem Carey scored two touchdowns in the final 2:17 to defeat Cienega 28-24? Probably not.
Was it more epic than the D-II semifinal game from last year where Cienega held on to defeat Ironwood Ridge 24-21 despite giving the ball back to Ironwood Ridge with over three minutes left? No.
How about the 2009 4A-I championship game where CDO beat Sabino in a rare title game featuring two Southern Arizona teams? Not quite.
But as far as regular season games go, Salpointe’s 30-14 win over Ironwood Ridge was big. The atmosphere was electric and reminiscent of the 1970′s games between Amphi and Sunnyside.
Salpointe added to the crowd by making the game their homecoming game along with reunions of graduating classes from as far back as 1962. The result was standing room only with plenty of noise.
When it was over, Ironwood Ridge quarterback Tyler Williams had racked up 114 yards rushing and 51 yards throwing. Anthony Braunreiter added 72 yards rushing but Salpointe put up big numbers in response.
Johnny Peña rushed for 187 yards and caught two passes for 33 more and Andrew Cota threw for 129 yards and ran for 51. Cameron Denson rushed for 37 and caught five passes for 52 yards.
Ironwood Ridge punted after their first series thanks in part to a sack by Austin Sene but the Nighthawk’s defense came up big against Salpointe.
Scott Simmons sacked Denson and then tackled Peña for a loss to force a punt. Then, Simmons broke through and blocked the punt to set The Ridge up on the 4 yard line where Braunreiter scored to give Ironwood Ridge an early 7-0 lead.
Both teams traded punts but Salpointe gained a short-field edge in the exchange and Cota racked up consecutive runs of 9, 8, 11, 24 and 9 yards before letting Peña take over. Peña took it in a few plays later to cut the lead down to 7-6 after the extra point was missed.
The Ridge punted again and Cota hit Peña on a 32-yard pass to set up another Peña score form 4 yards out to put Salpointe up 13-7.
Ironwood Ridge punter Julian Figueroa provided one of the game’s most athletic plays on the next series after he tracked down a long-snap that flew over his head and still managed to punt the ball away with two Lancers in his face.
Salpointe drove 80 yards to go up 20-7 after Peña scored again.
Ironwood Ridge showed some life and went down to the 6 yard line to set up a first and goal but a dual sack by Jake Casteel and Austin Weaver forced the Nighthawks to go to the air where they came up empty after two tries.
They attempted a 34-yard field but the kick was too low. Salpointe went into the half up 20-7.
Ironwood Ridge forced Salpointe to give the ball back on downs to start the second half but a fumble ended another scoring threat and Salpointe was back in business again.
Denson scampered for 32 yards on the next drive and Cota hit Robert Wilson on a 28-yard strike to put Salpointe up 27-7.
Williams hooked up with Cole Kuglitsch on a 36-yard pass to help set up a 5-yard scoring run by Williams on a fourth down play later in the drive. 27-14 Salpointe.
Luke Bakewell made a 24-yard field goal to put Salpointe up 30-14 with 4:53 left in the game and that was it.
Ironwood Ridge and Salpointe look to remain in the top four for the possibility of hosting the first two rounds of the playoffs. A top seed for Salpointe might not happen because 2 seed Marcos de Niza beat 4 seed Cesar Chavez 45-27.
The semifinals will be held in the Tucson area if a higher seed is from Southern Arizona but the championship game will be held November 24 at ASU.
The final seedings for football and girls volleyball come out at 9:45 am on Saturday morning.