PHOENIX — Pusch Ridge Christian looked like it had a chance to pull off a major upset at No. 1 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran on Saturday night. At least for the first 17 minutes of a Division V quarterfinal game.
But hope quickly turned into desperation for Pusch Ridge as the favored Coyotes scored 22 points in a 4:13 span before halftime and then held on for a 30-8 victory, ending the Lions’ (9-2) dream of a first-ever trip to the state semifinals.
“(Arizona Lutheran) is an unbelievable team, they’ve got a powerhouse offense and we held them to 30, that’s quite an accomplishment,” Pusch Ridge coach Troy Cropp said. “But we needed to put more points on the board to win.”
Even after an Arizona Lutheran (11-1) touchdown put the Coyotes up 8-0, No. 9 Pusch Ridge had enough of a running attack with juniors Tyler Overstreet (88 yards) and Taylor Fitzgerald (58 yards) to keep the belief alive.
But Coyote sophomore quarterback Cameron Haag finally adjusted to the absence of star receiver Brady Cook and Arizona Lutheran poured on 22 points before the half, with two long passes going to tight end Gabe Galvan.
“There’s a reason they’re the No. 1 seed and have one loss,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re very intense, very aggressive to the ball and they just shut us down.”
Pusch Ridge finally got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter with a 21-yard Fitzgerald run.
Before the game, 22 blue balloons were released to honor Charles Youvella, who died Monday after sustaining a head injury in Hopi’s game at Arizona Lutheran last week. His older sister, Crystal, made a touching speech at halftime, thanking families for their support and donations.