GILBERT - Nogales coach Vince Villanucci couldn't stop shaking his head.
Standing in the end zone following his team's 35-0 loss to Queen Creek in the Division III semifinals Saturday night, Villanucci contemplated the Apaches' uncharacteristic mistakes.
"Your head would be shaking like this too if you saw some of the things I did tonight," the coach said. "Dropped passes, missed tackles. It wasn't our night."
No, it wasn't.
After two games when it was their night, the 14th-seeded Apaches saw their season end at Gilbert Campo Verde after being shut out by second-seeded Queen Creek.
Villanucci's squad finished the season 10-3.
"Tonight was a heartbreaker," Nogales senior running back Brian McCarty said. "I really thought we were going to come up here and win and get to play another game.
"We played our hearts out, but it wasn't enough."
McCarty and the rest of the Apaches will eventually try to forget about Saturday's loss and instead remember their entire season.
This year's team became the first in program history to advance to the state semifinals and also produced 20 wins over the past two seasons - the most in a two-year span in Nogales history.
"There's still a lot to be proud about," McCarty said. "A lot of people didn't expect us to win our first two games, but we did. We made a good run."
The Apaches had a difficult time stopping Queen Creek running back Matt Guida. The junior, who came into Saturday's game, having rushed for 479 yards and five scores in the first two playoff games, continued his strong postseason.
Guida finished with 213 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.
"He just ran hard," Villanucci said. "He basically just ran right through us. We'd go to tackle him and we couldn't bring him down. He was very strong for them tonight."
The junior rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in the first half. He changed the game in the first quarter when it was still scoreless.
Guida ripped off a 61-yard gain and high-jumped over a Nogales defender in the process. Three plays later, he scored from one yard out to make it 7-0.
Nogales tried to answer Guida's score and put together a 15-play drive that spanned six minutes and 53 seconds.
But, the drive stalled at Queen Creek's 35-yard line and Nogales turned the ball over on downs.
The Bulldogs scored on their next drive to stretch their lead to 14-0. Guida scored from 32 yards out to cap the five-play, 65-yard drive.
That was the score at halftime and Nogales got the ball to start the second, but couldn't get a first down and Queen Creek, coached by former Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine, scored on its first drive of the second half to push it to 21-0.
"They are so balanced and do so many things right," Villanucci said.
McCarty finished his career by rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries. He also added 24 receiving yards on six catches.
Quarterback Marcel Renteria finished 13 for 27 for 133 yards and two interceptions.