Mountain Ridge 17
By Erik T. Masingill ’12
Two fourth-quarter interceptions by the Brophy defense helped secured an upset of Mountain Ridge in the first round of the Arizona state tournament.
Friday Nov. 12 was a repeat matchup between Brophy football and Mountain Ridge.
Last year in the playoffs, Brophy defeated Mountain Ridge in the first round by a score of 24-0 at Phoenix College. The difference for this game though was that it was Mountain Ridge who had home field advantage.
In the end this year though, it was the Broncos who, as the 13th seed, upset the fourth seeded Mountain Lions by a score of 24-17.
“We just kept battling,” said head coach Mr. Scooter Molander.
After stopping the Mountain Lions on their opening drive, the Brophy offense quickly went to work.
Quarterback Fred Gammage ’12 converted a third down with a 25-yard pass to Matt Auran ’13. That set up the next play for the Broncos, a two-yard touchdown run by Josh Dennard ’11 to give Brophy a 7-0 lead with 8:42 left in the first.
The defense forced the Mountain Lions to punt on their second drive and the offense was looking to make it a two touchdown lead. However, Josh Dennard fumbled on a carry and Mountain Ridge recovered the ball at their own 33-yard line.
The Mountain Lions capitalized on the turnover by scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run from P.J. Sparks to tie it up at seven with 2:26 left in the first.
Early in the second and on the first play of the drive for Brophy, Josh Dennard scored his second touchdown on a 78-yard run to retake the lead at 14-7.
However, Mountain Ridge countered with a seven-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Hunter Young to Wes Meridith to once again tie it up, 14-14 with 7:19 in the second.
Marche Dennard ’13 bobbled an exchange from Gammage on a run and Mountain Ridge recovered the ball and Brophy’s 39-yard line.
The Bronco defense forced Mountain Ridge to score on a 47-yard field goal attempt by Daniel Backx giving the lead to the Mountain Lions 17-14 with 5:34 left in the half.
As the first half wound down Gammage connected on a 49-yard pass to Devon Allen ’13 to give the Broncos a first and goal at Mountain Ridge’s three-yard line.
Gammage ran two yards to get to the one yard line and then Marche Dennard was stopped twice on second and third down runs. Brophy went for it on fourth down, but was denied after Josh Dennard gained no yardage on the run. At halftime, the Mountain Lions led 17-14.
After a three-and-out by Mountain Ridge to open the third quarter, the Broncos produced another productive drive where Marche Dennard took off for a 20-yard run.
That play set up a nine-yard touchdown catch by Allen from Gammage to again retake the lead 21-17 with 7:13 left in the third.
On the first play of the fourth quarter concluding a 14-play drive by the Broncos, Casey Skowron ’11 connected on a 32-yard field goal to increase Brophy’s lead to 24-17.
The Mountain Lions’ offense attempted to tie the game for a third time on their following possession, starting on their 20-yard line and heading down to Brophy’s 27-yard line.
However, Marcus Mehlhaf-Brown ’11 tipped a pass in the end zone that fell into the hands of Jordan Graves ’11, who returned the interception to their own 24-yard line with 6:17 left in the game.
Mountain Ridge tried pushing down field one last time but Young threw another interception, this time to Paul Wirth ’11, which sealed the win for the Broncos on a final score of 24-17.
Gammage went 13-25 passing for 184 yards with one touchdown throw and had one reception for four yards. Allen had nine catches for 129 yards including a touchdown grab.
Josh Dennard had 141 rushing yards on 19 carries including two touchdowns and one reception for no yardage.
Marche Dennard had 37 rushing yards on seven carries and Matt Auran had five catches for 62 yards.
“We were really close in the first half and coach Galante did a great job of making adjustments at halftime and we ran to the football,” Mr. Molander said.
Mr. Molander added that Skowron had a tremendous night at not only kicking extra points and the field goal, but kicking the ball into the end zone for touchbacks to take away Mountain Ridge’s return game.
The Broncos will head to Mountain Pointe on Friday Nov. 19 to take on the Pride in the second round of the 5A-1 playoffs.
Mountain Pointe, who defeated Red Mountain by a score of 21-17 in their first round game, is the fifth seeded team.
More photos from the game: