Photo by Bryce Owen ’17 | Noah Pittenger ’17 runs for a 23-yard touchdown to put Brophy up by 10 with 3 minutes remaining. Brophy defeated Pinnacle 52-42 in the first round of the playoffs Friday Nov. 4 at Phoenix College
By Andrew Howard ’17
Noah Pittenger ’17 ran for 294 yards and three touchdowns Nov. 4 at Phoenix College to defeat the Pinnacle Pioneers 52-42 in the first round of the playoffs.
Head coach Mr. Scooter Molander has never lost in the first round of the playoffs. He stands at 15-0.
Brophy came off of a bye week heading into this game, something Mr. Molander thought greatly helped the team prepare.
“It was really, really important, we were banged up,” he said. “Coming through the Premier League with no bye weeks, it was important to get healthy.”
Pinnacle quarterback sophomore Spencer Rattler came in as one of the highest ranked quarterbacks in the state, and he was quick to show off his arm, throwing for a touchdown on the first drive of the game.
Brophy quickly responded, with Nico Nicholson ’17 running back the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Pinnacle answered with another touchdown, making it 14-7 with just under eight minutes left in the first quarter.
On the next drive, Pittenger foreshadowed what was to come, touching the ball on all seven plays of Brophy’s drive, rushing it six times and catching once, totaling 63 yards on that possession alone. He ended the drive with a five yard touchdown run tying the game at 14 each.
Brophy was able to get a stop on defense and Pittenger did not take the field. Instead, Ross Velez ’18 was in the backfield for Brophy. Velez touched the ball eight times on that possession, which ended in an Erik Demaria ’18 touchdown run, giving Brophy the lead.
Pittenger said after the game that he was actually sick throughout the game, and he was exhausted after the first drive. He was shortly able to return, but took plays off to rest.
Brophy forced another punt, and was able to come away with a 48-yard Trevor Eldean ’17 field goal. This gave Brophy a 24-14 lead with 5:49 left in the first half.
On the ensuing Pinnacle possession, Rexx Tessler ’17 sacked Rattler to force a punt, a common theme for Tessler throughout the game, as he finished with three drive ending sacks.
“He is lightning in a bottle, he has speed, toughness, intelligence … this is one of the best linebacking cores we’ve had,” Mr. Molander said about Tessler.
Brophy was able to score another touchdown, leading 31-14 with just over a minute left in the half, but that proved to be enough time for Rattler and the Pioneer offense.
After a pass interference call, Rattler got one last chance at the end zone from the Brophy 43 with three seconds left, and he threw a hail mary touchdown that was caught off of a deflection in the endzone. This gave Brophy only a 10 point lead at the end of the half.
Brophy received to start the second half, and Pittenger continued right where he left off, rushing for a 39-yard dash putting Brophy into Pinnacle territory. Velez scored on a 15-yard run, and Brophy’s lead was 17 with almost 11 minutes still remaining in the third quarter.
Brophy forced a punt, and was driving when Nathan Moorman ’17 caught a 25 yard pass, but coughed the ball up, and Pinnacle recovered.
On the next play from scrimmage, Max Fees ’17 hit the Pinnacle quarterback as the threw, and Marques White ’19 intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown, increasing Brophy’s lead. White finished with seven tackles.
On the next possession Pinnacle scored and the score was 45-28 with 5:44 left in the third. Then they blocked a Brophy punt and ran it in for a touchdown, making it a 10 point game heading into the fourth quarter.
Pinnacle scored again with 5:30 left in the game, giving Brophy only a three point lead.
On the next possession, Pittenger took over, rushing the ball on five of the six plays for 48 yards, Velez rushed the other one play for his own 11 yards. The drive ended with a 23-yard Pittenger touchdown with 2:55 left in the game.
Mr. Molander said this possession was huge for the team.
“It was a huge drive when we needed it, before the game we walked up to our goal board and I told them ‘if we meet all these goals we will win this game,’” he said. “I’m incredibly proud of our guys.”
Pinnacle was driving at the end of the game, but fittingly, Tessler forced a Rattler fumble on fourth down, sealing the score.
“We faced adversity all year and this win was huge for our confidence, we are at a peak going into the next round,” Tessler said.
Pittenger said the most important thing to do this game was to keep Pinnacle’s offense off the field. “We needed to keep their offense off the field, obviously Rattler is a talented guy, and we needed to keep them off the field and put up as many points as possible,” he said.
Brophy will play Red Mountain Thursday, Nov. 10 at Phoenix College to try and advance to the semi-finals.