Pusch Ridge over San Tan Foothills 42-12by Andy Morales on Oct. 05, 2013, under Sports
With four games left in the season, Pusch Ridge (5-1, 3-0) solidified their position in the Division V rankings with a 42-12 win over sectional foe San Tan Foothills (5-2, 1-2) Friday night.
San Tan Foothills traveled down to Tucson ranked No. 1 in Section 6 and 10th in the division and Pusch Ridge was 14th, on the playoff fringe. Had the Lions lost, they might have fallen out of the top 16, but, with the win, they should move up to a safer spot along with Canyon State (5-2, 3-0).
San Tan Foothills came down averaging 38 points a game and Pusch Ridge 42 so it looked like it might turn out to be a high-scoring game but that’s not how it started. Saige Waxter rushed for 15 yards to give the Sabercats a 6-0 lead (2 pt. conversion failed) with 2:42 left in the first but that was it for the scoring until Pusch Ridge took the lead with a minute left in the first half.
The Lions got the ball on the 33 with 1:53 left and senior Jake Frithsen missed on his first two passes of the drive before he connected with sophomore Ben Walker on a 17-yard route to keep the drive alive.
Junior Taylor Fitzgerald caught a pass for 15 yards to bring the ball down to the 35 with 1:27 left. Walker caught an 18-yard pass and then Frithsen hit him again for a 17-yard touchdown.
The Sabercats were driving again to start the second half but Tyler Overstreet intercepted Malik Wolf to give the Lions the ball at the 13 yard line. Frithsen hit Fitzgerald on a short route but Fitzgerald was able to weave through traffic for an 87-yard touchdown. The flood gates were opened.
Kif Nichols recovered a San Tan Foothills fumble and Frithsen hit Walker on a 35-yard touchdown pass a few plays later to go up 21-6. The Lions defense began to clamp even further down and they forced a turnover on downs after San tan Foothills elected to go for it on their own 20 yard line on a fourth-and-ten with 3:20 left in the third.
Pusch Ridge took advantage of the curious call and Frithsen found Walker for a 20-yrad scoring pass a few plays later to go up 28-6.
Pusch Ridge connected on an onside kick and Overstreet scored on a 19-yard run moments later to put the Lions up 35-6. Fitzgerald would score on a 1-yard run with 8:10 left in the game and Juan Lopez would score a late touchdown for the Sabercats for the 42-12 final.
San Tan Foothills finished with 232 total yards but 66 of those came in their final drive after Pusch Ridge began to substitute. They caught Pusch Ridge off-guard early in the game when they came out with a different set than what they showed on film but the Lions were able to adjust while the Sabercats were stuck once their passes missed the mark.
“San Tan was 4-1 for a reason,” said Pusch Ridge coach Troy Cropp. “They had a great game plan and they were big and physical.”
Cropp inherited a very young team last year but he has them moving in the right direction this year. “They are now used to playing our system,” explained Cropp.
“They believe in it. They are taking pride in it.”
Wolf finished with 147 yards passing on 25 attempts with Tyler Bayless pulling down 4 catches for 65 yards and Dominick Kelly had 42. Waxter was the workhorse on the ground with 61 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
Frithsen hit on 17-21 for 272 yards with Fitzgerald grabbing 142. Walker had 131 yards on 7 catches. Walker also had a 24-yard pass completion on a fake punt to Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald rushed 9 times for 78 yards. In all, the junior had 220 of Pusch Ridge’s 412 yards of offense.
Pusch Ridge will host San Manuel (2-4, 1-2) next Friday and San Tan Foothills will host Santa Cruz (1-5, 1-2).
Assistant coach and former University of Arizona Wildcat Lamar Lovett did his customary victory break dance after the game and then Cropp gathered his players and told them they won with courage and focus.
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